The paramount species in a British rainforest is the celtic oak and so 80% of the trees that we have put into the ground are of this species. We’ve so far planted a little over 3,000 young saplings in the ground which makes up less than 10% of our eventual target. Our plans are to re-establish 100,000 trees across the Cabilla valley but about half of these will be through natural regeneration.
Oak trees only produce acorns every 2-5 years. They do this so that their natural predators (rabbits, squirrels, deer, etc) have poor years where their numbers are naturally suppressed due to winter hunger. When they do grow and drop acorns this is called a ‘mast year’. Due to the dense mycelial web of connections in our rainforest our trees are all in perfect sync. This means that when they produce acorns they all do it at exactly the same time. Our abundant population of jays then gathers up between two to three thousand acorns per bird during each mast year and plants them out in the scarified areas that Gloria, our loyal Cornish black pig, has prepared for them. The jays do this so that they will have winter food secreted around their territory but they conveniently forget where they’ve planted up to 90% of the acorns. Natural rainforest regeneration then flourishes.
This wonderful collaboration between tree, bird and mammal facilitates and catalyses the expansion of the forest from the valley floor up to the pock marked, sheep devastated hill side, where it would once have grown. Our planting efforts will further help this natural process and make sure that a journey which would take 1,000 years with no human assistance can be achieved in as little as a few hundred.