On Thursday 16 March, a group of Eton boys and Holyport students joined two specialists from Maydencroft – an environmental management company – to plant saplings on the School grounds.

Accompanied by Ms Hicks, Mademoiselle Herbommez, Mr Fussey and Mrs McKenna, we were first given a workshop on the theory behind tree planting. We learnt how different environments require different species and different management approaches. For example, urban environments require species which are more resistant to the harsher conditions associated with busy city areas. The reduced availability of water due to surface paving and the unique threat posed by salt spreading when the roads are icy mean that careful thought must be given to deciding which species of tree will have the best chance of survival (for example, the London Plane, Platanus sp, which does well in such conditions). Planting a range of species is also beneficial, as it helps support biodiversity. 

We then went out to the Playing Fields beside Eton Wick Road, just in front of the allotments and railway arches, to put our knowledge into action. We planted a variety of species including hawthorn, blackthorn and field maple. Each tree was given a protective sleeve and wooden stake to support its structure. Alexander S told me that, ‘the activity was great fun and it was great to be outdoors doing something meaningful’. Slowly but surely, the group got into the swing of things and we were able to plant about 60 trees. 

A 5% failure rate is considered normal for a planting such as this and so the group hope that their hard work will pay off.  Abraham Y said that he hoped ‘generations of Etonians playing sports on the nearby pitches will be able to enjoy their hard work’.  Ms Hicks who organised the planting course with Maydencroft, told me that ‘it is great to see everyone getting stuck in, the younger boys especially will be able to return in years to come and measure their success. We also hope to measure the biodiversity net gain, and, even carbon capture, that planting these trees will afford.’ The group looks forward to seeing the trees grow and would like to thank the team from Maydencroft for their guidance and all the teachers involved for their support.