How best to develop and protect Britain’s natural wooded habitat for the next generation? As responsible timber furniture makers, Neptune is partnering with a forward-thinking woodland creation charity that not only plants trees to suit the local environment, but also nurtures them through to maturity.
Much like our commitment to make furniture that will last 100 years and give pleasure to generations of families, so today’s tree experts are campaigning for forests to be planted with a long-term strategy (rather than focusing on headline-worthy sapling numbers), so that woodlands can flourish for centuries to come. Leading the charge is the woodland creation charity Stump Up For Trees (SUFT), based in South Wales. Neptune is partnering with SUFT to support their ecological restoration work in the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) and surrounding area.
SUFT General Manager, Dr Jenny Knight, explains the thinking behind the charity: ‘We have a long-term approach to woodland creation; it’s not just about what we’re putting in the ground, but how it’s going to develop. A birch might live for 100 years, but an oak could live for 900 years, so planting a mix of species makes for a complex and rich natural habitat.’ One such project currently underway involves planting a mix of birch, hawthorn, and oak. Thanks to their different growth rates, the birch will shoot up rapidly, creating shady protection for the hawthorn and oak in their early years. The hawthorn will branch out as the birch trees decline, and when the hawthorn finally fades the oak will still be in its glorious prime.
It’s a concept that resonates with all we stand for at Neptune – looking to nature to create an environment that will be dependable and enjoyable now and for future generations. Like all good ideas, Stump Up For Trees began as a passion project for two neighbours – farmer Keith Powell and writer Rob Penn. ‘Keith had planted all the trees he could on his farm,’ explains Jenny, ‘but part of his grazing land was common ground and he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t plant there too. It was with the help of Rob that he persuaded the other farmers and local authorities to allow planting on the common.’ 64 acres were eventually transformed, and Keith and Rob realised the lessons they’d learnt could help other landowners reimagine their acreage. And so, Stump Up For Trees was born.
Today, the charity has over 250 active volunteers and plants about 27 native species, including rowan, hazel, and even rare Wych elm. While the charity’s approach is holistic – with a focus on surveying, designing, and nurturing projects that suit the local ecology – they have still planted 235,000 trees in just three years. As prime tree-planting season approaches, upcoming projects include multiple small woodlands and shelterbelts on unproductive farmland, a diverse 40-hectare site, working with the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority to rejuvenate old hedgerows and plant new ones, and exploring the role of trees in flood management in South Wales.
For Neptune’s CEO, Aalish Yorke-Long, the partnership with Stump Up For Trees is a natural union. ‘At Neptune, we’re committed to making furniture which will last for 100 years and more. And as British designers who appreciate the beauty of working with timbers such as oak and birch, we want to support a charity with a similar ethos to us. The first step in this exciting partnership is a donation initiative, but going forward the Neptune team will be rolling their sleeves up and getting involved in as many ways as we can.’
To support the remarkable work done by Stump Up For Trees, Neptune will plant a tree with SUFT for every tree we’ve used to make furniture this year.
Furthermore, customers can opt to add a £3 donation to their order which we will then match. Raising £6 per purchase not only funds the planting of a tree, but it also ensures that tree is monitored and maintained by SUFT for 12 years. At 12 years old, a tree reaches establishment and enters a new regulatory framework, which protects it as woodland.