Thieves steal 1,000 young trees from volunteers’ planting site

Treesponsibility volunteers working at the Gorpley planting site
Treesponsibility volunteers working at the Gorpley planting site

Heartless thieves have stolen over 1,000 young trees from a local not-for-profit group working for the benefit of the community.

The thieves took the trees from Gorpley Clough, a site above Todmorden, which were in the process of being planted by volunteers to help reduce the impact of flooding.

Staff from Treesponsibility, the group which oversees the running of the project, arrived at the site on Thursday, February 27, to find the gate open and a few scattered trees laying nearby.

Christina Hooley, one of the workers, said: “We didn’t realise at first that any trees had been taken. We thought it was an incident of vandalism, although we were puzzled about this as the site is in such a remote location.

“It wasn’t until we realised that certain species of trees were nowhere to be found at the weekend that we realised what had happened”.

Treesponsibility is the lead partner of a project called the SOURCE, which aims to minimize flash flooding in the Calder Valley through appropriately-sited tree planting and moorland restoration, in partnership with the Environment Agency, Calderdale Council and several other local groups.

The River Calder drains an area of over 350 square miles, and much of the land in the upper catchment area has been seriously degraded due to centuries of mining and poor land management practices, said a Treesponsibility spokesman.

They said: “This means that as we experience the more extreme rainfall incidents we are becoming familiar with nowadays the land has little capacity to slow the runoff. As a result it all ends up in the river too quickly and leads to flooding such as we have suffered in the Todmorden and Hebden Bridge areas.”

Treesponsibility organises volunteer tree planting events for people from all walks of life, engaging people directly in the process of restoring the land to address the problem. The group also works with local schools to raise awareness and gives children hands on experience of working with nature. Over 35,000 trees have been planted in the SOURCE area since the beginning of 2012, with several hundred school children being directly involved.