Highfield House

Creating a haven for wildlife on neighbouring land

Humber Forest

Trees for Climate, Year 4

Paul Wingham and his neighbour Matt Blood, from Preston in East Yorkshire, have created a haven for wildlife over their combined land.

Both neighbours wanted to create an area where wildlife could thrive by planting trees. This scheme, funded through Trees for Climate and Northern Forest grant Grow Back Greener, consists of planting of 774 trees including 451 meters of hedgerow and 17 standards to extend an existing fruit and nut orchard. In total 3283 tree saplings were put in across the two sites.

The design of the planting for Highfield House was developed to ensure the view of 12th century St Augustine’s Church remained so Paul and his wife could enjoy their morning coffee whilst admiring the view of the church.

The total area of these sites combined includes 0.62 hectares of native broadleaf woodland.

My wife Maria and I feel it’s a real opportunity to give back to nature, protecting local wildlife for decades to come

Paul Wingham, landowner at Highfield House


This site originally came through from a discussion at local agricultural event, Driffield Show, where Paul visited the Humber Forest marquee as he was interested in planting trees on his land. He filled out an enquiry form and that was the start of a little nature reserve taking place.

Paul from Highfield House then then talked to his neighbour Matt who lives next door at East Cottage and plans were developed through Humber Forest with both neighbours.

There are little patches of woodland existing around both sites so this new planting will greatly enhance the wildlife value of the site and given the urban nature of the area and extent of human disturbance the proposal was greatly supported. Furthermore, the archaeological value of the site was so decayed from historical agricultural practices that woodland planting would not be considered detrimental.

The design was fairly complex to fit around the overhead powerlines, flooding and public right of way at the bottom of the sites. In addition, Paul and his wife from Highfield House wanted to keep the view of church from their back door and so a glade with a shrub layer was used to partition the woodland. Glades encourage the movement of wildlife across the site, including deer and foxes that have been seen on the site.

A hedgerow was planted alongside the Public Right of Way which runs along the southern end of both properties, the new hedgerow will enhance the walk for local residents, while also creating a corridor for wildlife.

Woodland species included Silver Birch, Willow Ossier, Common Alder and a range of fruit trees including pear and apple were planted in the orchard together with a walnut tree as Paul already had a walnut tree which is thriving is his soil.

It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be a delivery partner for Humber Forest which has enabled us to plan a tree planting project that meets the needs of local landowners. We have built positive relationships with Paul and Matt and hearing how excited they are to watch their land develop over the next number of years. We are also excited to see these sites develop over the next 5 years and watch the transformation and landscape change as the trees and hedgerow mature, which will also enable us to conduct our own biodiversity research though I am a naturalist.

Les Moss, Directory of Rewilding Youth


Natural flood management and water quality:

The southern sections of the fields for both properties were prone to flooding, especially in the last couple of years where unprecedented levels of water have been recorded locally. Flood resistant tree species such as Willow Ossier were planted in the southern parcels to help alleviate the impact of this flooding. The land at East Cottage has more extensive flooding so this year to address this, the landowner is going scrape some of the soil to create a natural / seasonal pond which will fill rainwater.

Public access and management:

There is a public right of way that runs along the southern edge of each field, and although access is not permitted on the private land, the public can see and admire the tree planting along their walks.

Enhancing wildlife:

There are many benefits to this type of planting for wildlife, 100% native broadleaf trees were used which provides a species rich mixture to encourage wildlife to use the location. Furthermore, the fruit and nut tree orchard encourage other types of mammals to feed on the fallen fruit and therefore birds of prey to hunt on the site, in fact there have been a family of nesting barn owls this season.