A VILLAGE conservation group has thanked volunteers after they turned up in numbers for a community tree planting session.

The Upper Clatford Conservation Group planted 30 trees along the fence line of Balksbury Hillford meadow on Saturday, February 10, with The Hampshire Forestry Partnership donating the trees as part of the ‘Shoots along the Routes’ initiative.

The group had explored the possibility of planting along the A303 southern boundary, although this is not possible due to scheduled monument protections on the remaining section of Balksbury Hillfort.

Therefore the planting took place along Balksbury Hillford, helping to enhance screening of the A303 and enriching biodiversity in the Local Gap.

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Andover Advertiser: Volunteers getting ready for the dayVolunteers getting ready for the day (Image: The Upper Clatford, Anna Valley & Red Rice Village Page)

On Saturday, February 10, an impressive turnout of volunteers arrived to help in the tree planting within the ancient site.

The trees that were planted comprised Copper beech, Beech, Field maple, and two varieties of disease-resistant European Elm.

Sarah, who was representing the Hampshire Forest Partnership, spoke of the ecological significance of Elm trees, particularly for the white-letter hairstreak butterfly.

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A post on The Upper Clatford, Anna Valley & Red Rice Village Page said: "Our sincere appreciation goes out to Kieron Beattie Landscaping (KBL) and its proprietors Matt & Fiona Hardy, who generously offered to excavate the 30 required holes for tree planting, thus saving us considerable time and effort.

"Stay tuned for a forthcoming feature on them, as Matt shared insightful information about their company that will likely resonate with avid bargain hunters and gardening enthusiasts.

"Furthermore, we extend our gratitude to Sarah from the Hampshire Forest Partnership for her support and the donation of the 30 trees. Special thanks also go to Gary Adams from Anton Rotary Club and his team, and huge thanks to Cllr Richard Bennett. Without your inspiration, energy and immense efforts, this would not have been possible.

"Lastly, we express heartfelt thanks to the remarkable residents of our parish who dedicated their time this morning to enhance the environmental quality of our community. Not only did we successfully plant all the trees, but we also took the initiative to clear the area of accumulated litter."

Cllr Richard Bennett said: "The planting of these trees on Balksbury Hill will in the future assist in screening Upper Clatford and Anna Valley from the adverse effects of the ever-increasing volume of traffic on the A303.  The disease-resistant elms will enhance our rural environment in which elms have not survived since the arrival of the Dutch Elm disease in the 1970s.

"I am hugely grateful to the landowners and Hampshire Forestry Partnership, and to all of the volunteers including Kieron Beattie Landscaping and OneTwoTrees who gave their time and resources so generously to support this project."

The Hampshire Forest Partnership have distributed more than 700 Elms across the county, with the partnership eager to assist various stakeholders interested in tree planting. More information can be found by getting in touch at treeplanting@hants.gov.uk.

Use the photo gallery at the top of the article to see some of the best photos on the day.