The Rotary Club of Harrogate has operated an Environmental Project Group since 1980. It felt that Rotary had an important role to play in this key aspect of our lives.
One of the most successful of the Group's activities has been working in conjunction with Harrogate Borough Council in the provision of over 600 trees in and around Harrogate, but mainly on The Stray, for people to acquire as a special memento. Usually they are purchased in memory of people who have died, but they are also bought by families, or to commemorate a wedding, birth, or other special occasion. Please contact us if you want to consider a similar scheme in your area.
The Club was eager to celebrate 100 years of Rotary, and approached Harrogate Borough Council to identify some spare land on which a small wood could be planted. Without making any promises, the Council in turn asked the Club to manage a 62 acre wood, known locally as The Pinewoods. This is a very sensitive area, being situated between the Valley Gardens and RHS Harlow Carr Gardens. Lack of funding resources has led to a decline in the woods, but a Charitable Trust, the Pinewoods Conservation Group, was formed following a public meeting. Rotary continued to have a close association with the Group, having its chairman for the first three years and another member on the Executive Committee. The Group were able to raise over £30,000 in those three years mainly from other charities, this was used to make a new footpath linking the two Gardens (and which now also forms the start of the Dalesway Walk, which used to start in Ilkley until this final link was made). Many other projects such as signage, information boards, bulb planting, Balsam ‘bashing’, bird and bat boxes, were undertaken, all of which would not have been possible without the Group having been formed. The Group even had to successfully stop a wide cycle route being put through the wood, and an attempt by the RHS to make part of the wood into a car park!
All this hard work reaped its reward when the Council offered a 4 acre field adjacent to the Pinewoods to be made into a Centenary Wood. Over the last 3 years work has been going on there with over 2500 trees and hedge plants having been planted. In addition by this coming springtime 75 specimen trees, all of different native or European varieties, will have been planted. This will be labelled and eventually used for educational purposes. There will be a need to improve access to the site for pushchairs, wheelchairs etc all to have easy access, and paths will also need to be constructed within the site once the trees have started to establish themselves.
Both within the Pinewoods and the Rotary Centenary Wood, help has been given by groups of young men and women from the nearby Army Foundation College, whose members are ‘required’ to do the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme as part of their training. In addition school children have been involved in planting the trees, and also the 2 tons of daffodil bulbs kindly given by a benefactor.
We also keep a close eye on all aspects of the environment and even threatened at one time to publish photographs of local eye sores! However since then things were turned round to the extent that Harrogate won a Gold Medal in the International Europe in Bloom Competition 2 years ago, partly aided by the team of judges being taken partly on golf buggies and partly by walking through the Pinewoods seeing the work of the Group. Since then the Rotary Centenary Wood has also featured in winning the Yorkshire in Bloom Competition.
Recently the Group launched a scheme to plant up to 25,000 broadleaf trees in the Nidderdale Area of Natural Beauty. The trees will not only help offset those emissions but provide an additional wild life habitat, and reduce and counteract the spread of bracken due to the general reduction in farming activity in the upper Dales area. To those who would like to do something positive to offset their own carbon emissions we are currently selling trees at £2.50 each. For more details please select the relevant side tab.