Horticulture Week Custodian Award - Best Tree or Woodland Partnership

Winner - The Conservation Volunteers & OVO Energy

Image: The Conservation Volunteers
Image: The Conservation Volunteers

The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and OVO Energy have been working in partnership since 2015 to deliver a national tree planting programme - I Dig Trees - focused on planting trees in the heart of UK communities

Each bare root season OVO Energy sponsor a number of trees on behalf of their greener tariff customers, available free of charge to community groups, schools, friends of groups and NGO’s.

The partnership agreed early on to involve as many people as possible in the I Dig Trees programme to inspire communities to get involved in planting trees in the places that matter to them, where they will be enjoyed by future generations and leave a lasting impact on their local environment.

The aims of I Dig Trees are to increase the number of native UK trees in our local communities, to improve the local environment and increase wildlife habitats, to engage a diverse mix of community groups and volunteers to enable planting on multiple community sites as opposed to a few single large-scale schemes.   

Partnership objectives: 

  • Distribute 390,000 free trees to community groups
  • Engage over 1,000 community groups
  • Involve over 10,000 volunteers to make a difference
  • Plant trees or hedgerows on over 1,000 different locations 

Between September 2016 and February 2018, the partnership successfully achieved its target of distributing and planting 390,000 native UK trees.

The success of the programme relies on TCV’s ability to reach out to local communities. Meanwhile TCV and OVO Energy work collectively to raise awareness through social media and at a local level with leaflets, posters and flags on planting days.

Groups can order trees throughout the bare root season from October to March. All are supplied with canes and spiral guards, and groups are supported with online information, videos and planting guides.   

At the end of each season an I Dig Trees impact report is prepared to share back with every group that participated.  The I Dig Trees webpage provides a live tree map of the UK, so everyone can easily see where trees have been planted and how many.

As well as distributing and planting 390,000 trees since September 2016, the partnership has also worked with 1,100 community group, and planted trees in 1,200 locations. More than 10,000 volunteers have been part of I Dig Trees, including schools, scout groups, friends of groups, alongside volunteers, young and old.

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