The Thousand Year Trust has been busy germinating over the past few months and it feels as though momentum is pushing us through to the next phase. It has been the stuff of magic, watching the temperate rainforest change as it transitions to autumn and then winter. The full spectrum of autumnal colours have transformed the Cabilla site as we plan to plant close to 20,000 trees over the next couple of months.

Our Forest Ranger Al Barraclough started at the Thousand Year Trust in June as a volunteer. We have since been able to hire Al as a part time Forest Ranger while he continues his MSC in land recovery and ecosystem restoration at the Eden Project. He and Esther have been leading the ‘Cornwall Rainforest Project’ and have overseen phase one of the tree planting for the season. They are now getting ready to work alongside our contractors to get phase two in the ground. We have been inundated with messages of support from people who resonate with what we are doing and some have been kind enough to offer their services as volunteers for our tree planting activities. Al and Esther are coordinating the volunteers to ensure we are able to get people to the site at Cabilla to see what we are doing and to get their hands dirty.

We love all of our trees in the forest however, some are native like the sessile oak while others like the beech are not. Trees like the beech grow faster and taller than our native oaks and over time they would dominate the canopy. Unfortunately, without our interaction with the forest, invasive tree species would eventually take over and the oaks would die out – without them, we wouldn’t have a temperate rainforest. Al is also looking at how to best manage the invasive species on the site which will give our sessile oaks the headstart they need in the race to the top. It’s the oak trees who provide essential real estate for hundreds of other life forms to thrive. Their trunks and branches are covered in lichen, mosses, ferns and epiphytes which are some of the bioindicators that tell us we’re in a temperate rainforest.

Cabilla - Cornwall - Wellness - Retreat

The Thousand Year Trust is named so because an oak tree’s life cycle runs for 1000 years. It takes 300 years for an oak tree to grow to its full size, it lives for up to 400 years and then it begins the slow process of decomposing which can take 300 years. We understand that the trees we plant now won’t immediately make a rainforest. But this is where grand visions must start:

‘The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.’
– Nelson Henderson.

Society’s drive for short-term goals and results has no doubt exacerbated the decline of the natural world. What we need is a dramatic shift in our approach and visionaries with their eyes on the long-term horizon. In the next Millennium our distant ancestors will be surrounded in an abundant temperate rainforest which will be a normal part of their lives. It’s something that we love to think about here at the Thousand Year Trust, that the saplings going into the ground now are going to create rich habitats for earth’s future population.

In October the South West Rainforest Alliance gathered at Cabilla. We are used to educating people about the benefits of the temperate rainforest, however during this meeting we were able to share knowledge and we learned a lot! We worked together to align on future ambition for restoration in the area. It was inspiring to see so many passionate people who devote their time and energy to co-creating a better world and we know that our collaboration with multiple partners in the South West provides real hope for the future of the rainforests in the area.

At the start of October our director Merlin, one of Cabilla’s retreat producers Lucy Keeling and myself attended the Blue Earth Summit in Bristol. The three day summit brought together thousands of visionaries from the business world, non profit sector and wider community to learn from one another and collaborate on how to create and influence a better, brighter world for mother earth. We saw talks from Charles Clover and Professor David Olusoga OBE, attended workshops on how to become a successful optimist with Mark Stevenson and how to put nature on your board hosted by Faith in Nature and Brontie Ansell. Best of all we met more inspiring people than you could shake an (oak) stick at! Gatherings like this become backdrops for insightful and inspired conversations back in the office and provide us with hope that we are not alone in this fight for our world.

We will be keeping busy over the next couple of months as we look to secure funding for a rainforest research centre and a parcel of land close to Cabilla where we can continue with the next stage of our broader landscape recovery scheme. This is an exciting time for us, a research centre will enable volunteers and researchers to stay on site at Cabilla where they can access the forest. With better access to the rainforest we can keep fostering a love and connection for this incredible environment while our collaborations with university partners will lead to world leading research coming out of Bodmin Moor! You can donate to our charity by following the link to our website and hitting the donate button. Every donation helps us to continue with the work that we’re doing to protect, restore and expand temperate rainforests in Cornwall and beyond.