>>James Thomas: I'm James Thomas. I'm part of Robert Thomas Farms. We’re sandland farmers here on the Nottinghamshire sandstone ridge which will formerly have been all part of Sherwood Forest.  

One of the key fundamental problems we have on this sandland is the stability of the sandland particles. Wind erosion, water erosion— they’re the two main issues we have. In recent times we’ve found that weather events are that much harsher, with much heavier, much more intense rain showers, and we’ve found that we can physically see the water will wash down the field, hit the slope and it will start to wash a gully in the soil. We’ll see the soil running down the field towards the corner of the field and if we’re not careful it can leave the field.  

It really is essential that we’re targeting these problematic areas in planting trees, getting trees established so that when these heavy rains come the water might well head towards that side of the field, but the trees will help encourage infiltration and prevent that water gathering pace and doing the damage that we’ve seen in the last couple of years.  

The tree roots bind the soil together. They release organic matter all the time. They’re increasing infiltration rates so instead of it running off it’s getting to the trees and then it’s able to infiltrate through, and it’s reducing soil erosion to zero. In twenty years time we will have these tree belts established and they will produce wood fuel to help drive our biomass burner on the yard and keep us nice and warm.  

You’ll see the oak trees behind me here. These are aged between 600 and 700 years old and we’re hoping now that working with the Woodland Trust we can plant today’s trees that will replace these in another 600 years.