NATURE lovers are celebrating the centenary of an Oxfordshire woodland by planting 100 new trees.

This year marks 100 years since the ffennell family bought Wytham Woods, near Oxford, and established the adjoining Hill End outdoor education centre a Farmoor. The woods were later gifted to the University of Oxford.

On Wednesday, pupils from Wolvercote Primary and Matthew Arnold schools joined volunteers at Hill End to plant the first of the 100 trees.

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Pupils from the schools' eco clubs put their wellies on and planted the first 10 saplings, starting the creation of the new wildlife corridor that will connect Hill End – now run as a charitable trust – and Wytham Woods.

Hill End hopes the new saplings will encourage wildlife and biodiversity in the area, as well as educate more young people about the importance of woodlands.

Oxford Mail:

Lucy Crittenden from the Hill End centre said: “It was great for the kids. They are part of school eco clubs and they are interested in nature.

“They learnt about the environment and they helped us plant the first stages of our wildlife corridor. We taught them about different species of trees and we taught them about how the trees help the environment.”

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She added: “They had a lot of fun and it was very muddy.”

For every school that helps and supports Hill End this year, the centre will hang a wooden ‘fruit’ decoration on an ornamental tree to symbolise their support.

Oxford Mail:

The environmentally-conscious schoolchildren planted 10 trees, but there is still a long way to go to plant 100 trees and complete the wildlife corridor.

For generations children have been visiting the Hill End centre, previously run by the county council, to learn about nature and this year it will be opening its doors to the public with events to celebrate the centenary including more tree planting days for school children and clubs.

Oxford Mail:

Hill End centre director Selby Dickinson said: “We’re delighted to be celebrating this important anniversary with our partners at Wytham Woods, and also excited about what we can achieve as a new charity. As a society we now recognise all the many benefits of outdoor learning – and that’s been happening here for a century. This year is all about making sure we can do that for the next 100 as well.”

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The year will feature a series of events and in June the public will be invited to an anniversary summer festival which has been organised by the ‘Friends of Hill End.’