Eagles land for tree project

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A NATURE reserve that was recently hit by arsonists is set for a boost from an army of volunteers.

The Boy Scouts of America are poised to swoop at Forest Heath District Council’s Aspal Close Nature Reserve in order to carry out conservation work as part of an Eagle Project.

Tomorrow, ‘haloing’ work will be carried out by the RAF Lakenheath-based group - clearing competing vegetation and plant-life from around the base of around 20 veteran oaks.

The work comes just weeks after vandals set fire to one of the site’s 200 oaks, leaving it unlikely to survive.

The project was launched by Hampton Ray, a 14-year-old scout who needs to lead a service project in order to reach Eagle Scout status.

He said: “We feel very fortunate to team up with the council to carry out a vital phase of the plan to preserve these magnificent trees.

“As volunteers, we feel a great sense of satisfaction through being united by a good cause.”

Matt Vernon, Forest Heath’s countryside and open spaces officer, said the work was part of a 50-year conservation plan for the rare trees.

“Those trees are so old and they haven’t got much energy so we have to do what we can to give them some vigour.

“It’s basically like giving them some breathing space,” he said.

Mr Vernon said he expected up to 30 volunteers at the reserve tomorrow.

Haloing has been pioneered at Hatfield Forest, one of the UK’s premier sites for veteran oaks.