HUGS have More Trees.

It’s National Tree Week, so it’s very fitting that there’ll be 400 new trees planted across the 3 villages following our ‘More trees, please’ campaign.

Thanks very much if you’ve found space for one tree (or a whole bunch). And if you were already at full capaci-tree, don’t worry, the Woodland Trust has agreed to supply Upton with 400 native trees to plant our own ‘tiny forest’.

The plan is to use a method pioneered in Japan in the 1970s, and successfully deployed in the last couple of years in the Netherlands and Witney! It involves putting in trees very densely – as many as 600 on a tennis court-sized space. Competition encourages the trees to grow much faster than usual in the first 3 to 4 years, achieving higher than usual levels of soil enrichment, and quickly becoming home to large numbers of birds and invertebrates. (Search for the ‘Tiny Forest Zaanstad’ report from Wageningen University if you want to see the species lists!)

The trees arrive in March, and will need lots of mulch to get them started. The young woody growth on hedges and trees makes one of the best mulches, so if you’re pruning or clipping over the winter please don’t brown bin it – let me know and I’ll take it away.

Citizen science: Owl project

We’ve launched a new project to study the owl population in the three villages. Lu Barton, our local owl expert, is working with us to help map and support our owl population. Together we’ll be listening for owls, putting up nest boxes, installing nest webcams and working to improve local habitat for owls.

Lu has already been looking into where our local owls are around the 3 villages. Do help her by emailing her ( to tell her if you’ve seen or heard owls near you.

Lu has already been hosting fascinating Facebook live sessions about each of our local owl species – tawny, little and barn owls. She’s joined in the sessions by her own gorgeous owls and she tells us more about each type of owl and what we can do in our gardens and on our land to support them better. If you missed any ‘owlcasts’ you can watch again on our Facebook page. Here’s a short link to find it:

Joining HUGS

It’s free to join – just drop an email to You’ll get advance notice of events and you’ll get a say in what activities HUGS focuses on in 2021.