Rare poplars set to improve biodiversity near highways

Maintenance firm to plant Poplus nigra var. betufolia as part of Highways Agency biodiversity plan

Woodland management and maintenance company Tilhill has planted 30 rare Populus nigra var. betulifolia, or black poplar, at sites next to the A1, the A1(M) and the A66(M) near Darlington. It was commissioned by the Highways Agency to carry out the planting as part of its biodiversity plan. Tilhill staff, ecologists and A-one, the agency’s maintenance contractor, selected the locations. Tilhill Yorkshire district manager Simon Rochester said: “The potential for the trees’ survival looks promising. With careful maintenance, they will hopefully mature and add to the biodiversity of the highway infrastructure.” The trees came from Darlington Borough Council. Together with the Tees Community Forest Project, the local authority manages a scheme for growing the trees from suitable cutting stock collected from mature trees within the various parks, gardens, cemeteries and highways in the area. Researching the history of the variety, Tilhill found it was well known in central and eastern England but much of its habitat has been eroded by urbanisation and there were only around 7,000 examples in the UK and Ireland.

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