Traditional decorations for a sustainable celebration

Clearing some areas of willow in Westerland Valley Country Park will help increase biodiversity. Pho

Clearing some areas of willow in Westerland Valley Country Park will help increase biodiversity. Photo: Groundwork South - Credit: Groundwork South

After almost a whole year of living at what feels like a crawling pace, a bubbling energy is seeping through to everyday life in the lead up to the festive period.

Groundwork logo

Groundwork logo - Credit: Archant

The question, for anyone looking to mark the occasion more sustainably, is where to source renewable, biodegradable decorations from.

Before the age of cheap labour, transport and oil-based plastics, when tinsel wasn’t even a twinkling fairy-light in Father Christmas’s eye, the good folk of Britain would decorate their homes with greenery collected from the countryside.

While there may be a holly bush in your back garden willing to give up a few berry laden sprigs to decorate your home with, many may have no source of such greenery.

Which is where a spot of green space volunteering comes in...

On December 13, the conservation group at Westerland Valley Country Park will harvest sustainable material while undertaking some coppicing, a land management practice traditionally used to supply a sustainable source of wood and timber.

Nowadays, coppicing is more commonly used as part of wider conservation efforts to increase biodiversity.

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It lets greater amounts of light reach the ground, which allows other species of trees and plants to grow.

These plants then provide food for butterflies and other insects, which in turn provide food for birds, bats and mammals.

By coppicing, the volunteers are not only helping the biodiversity of Westerland, they are also helping local residents to celebrate Christmas more sustainably by providing them with willow and greenery for making festive wreaths.

And of course, the group ensure they follow the responsible foraging guidelines:

• you must have the landowner’s permission – no foraging in your local park!

• make sure you know what you are collecting – avoid stinging, sharp or poisonous plants

• take only what you need and leave plenty behind for wildlife

• never dig up plants; it is illegal to remove some species of plant even if you have permission from the landowner.

To find out more about getting involved with conservation tasks and activities within Torbay Green Spaces please contact Hannah Worthington on 07940510616 or email