Forest of rare trees kept in the dark for major North Wales planting project

    Lisa James, front, of Lock Stock Self Storage, who have supplied a storage unit for the North Wales Wildlife Trust’s Woodlands for Water Project tree-planting programme, pictured with Project Manager Jonathan Hulson and Project Officer Sarah Ellis. Picture by Mandy Jones Photography

    One of the rarest and most valuable trees in Europe is among a mini-forest stored in suspended animation and ready to be planted across North East Wales.

    It’s part of a major native tree-planting programme being carried out by the North Wales Wildlife Trust from their base at Maeshafn, near Mold.

    Sixteen-thousand small saplings are housed in darkness in a 20-foot steel storage unit supplied by the Denbigh-based Container Sales Centre and delivered to the Trust’s North East Wales base at Aberduna Nature Reserve.

    The tiny trees sit in darkness in plastic bags and wait to be planted and the storage unit, a former shipping container, is the ideal place for them according to Woodlands for Water Project Manager Jonathan Hulson.

    He said: “The storage unit is perfect for us because it doesn’t let any light in at all and that way we can keep the small trees dormant in a state of suspended animation for a few months.

    “The unit needs to be windproof, watertight and dark and the CSC units are perfect and once the trees come out and into the nursery nearby they soon come back to life and are ready to be planted wherever they’re needed or wanted.”

    The varieties are native species including sessile oak, rowan, hazel, field maple, willow, silver birch and Scots pine but there are some less common trees too.

    These include rarities like the small-leaved lime which before the Ice Age was one of our most widespread tree species and the wild service tree, common before farming saw much of the land cleared for livestock and crops, now very highly valued in Germany where veneer grade wild service timber can fetch prices over 4000 euros a cubic metre.

    Jonathan Hulson added: “The specimen we’ve got came from a woodland in the Vale of Clwyd, but hopefully in a couple of hundred years there will be lots of them in our landscape.

    “We are planting them for their value in slowing the rate at which water drains from the land which is an important aid in preventing flooding and we’re always keen to hear from people interested in volunteering with us.”

    The Trust has four nurseries growing young trees around the old Aberduna Quarry, which is now home to peregrine falcons, and many of the saplings are being planted on farmland, many are also going to new housing developments and industrial estates.

    They are grown to between 90 and 120 centimetres high which is just enough to avoid the top leaves being grazed by sheep.

    CSC Sales Consultant Lisa James said: “It’s such an interesting project and fantastic that one of our units is playing such an important role in it but then they are really versatile and ideal for so many different uses and we’re finding there has been a real surge in demand for them.

    “An advantage of buying outright is that you can also paint the exterior to your own taste including having your company branding if you are launching your own business.

    “Our containers have been used to house a flight simulator and even as an indoor coffee bar and we can deliver containers up to 40 feet long and also arrange to move units to different site locations.”

    Project Officer Sarah Ellis added: “We were very impressed at the way CSC’s driver was able to get the articulated lorry in to what is a very tight site and then use the remotely-controlled crane to drop it off.

    “It’s proving ideal for us because we have been able to keep the trees dormant for planting out in the field or potted-up in our nursery.

    “Our remaining ancient woodlands in North East Wales are generally poor in terms of species diversity, native trees like sessile oak were mostly cut down to be used as pit props and fuel in the mining industry.”

    Container Sales Centre specialises in the sale of new and used shipping containers which range in sizer from 10-feet long up through 20-footers to 40-foot units, all eight feet high and eight feet wide, from 640 to 2,560 in cubic feet in volume.

    The new units supplied are watertight and they can also be insulated plus they provide versatile storage options or for the more ambitious, a range of possible uses including office space and even as component parts of innovative new homes.

    CSC supply a variety of storage units including new wind and watertight, used wind and watertight and used in need of repair and prices range from £500 for small pre-used units needing repair through used wind and watertight units to new costing between £2,000-£4,000 and delivery can be arranged to most places in the UK.

    For information about Container Sales Centre go to and for information on the North Wales Wildlife Trust go to