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The new woodland at Fairlands Valley Park has officially been named.

Just under 1,700 residents voted for their favourite name for the new woodland earlier this year, with Fairlane Wood taking the top spot.

An official naming ceremony was held on Friday, 10 November. The event was attended by Mayor of Stevenage, Councillor Myla Arceno, Leader of the Council, Councillor Richard Henry, Councillor Simon Speller, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Climate Change, and pupils from local schools who took part in the planting.

The name 'Fairlane Wood' is also historically connected to the park. The word 'Fairlands' is believed to have come from the 'Fairlane' that once connected Shephall with Pin Green. ‘Fairlane’ was first mentioned in the Westminster Abbey Survey of 1315 as part of the Abbot's memorial land. It is possible that the occupants of the nearby moated homestead in Whomerley Wood used the valley water meadows to graze their animals since the water table would have been higher in those times.

Around 4,000 trees were planted in the Southfield of Fairlands with help from the local community in December 2022 and January 2023. A mixture of trees were planted, most of which are native to the UK, including species such as silver birch, wild cherry, crab apple, oak and hornbeam. Seven silver maple trees were also planted within the new woodland to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.

It will take several years for the woodland to develop into maturity. However, there is a variety of different habitats to enhance biodiversity while the trees mature, including meadow grasslands, woodland glades, naturally regenerating scrub and access paths. A rare green-winged orchid was spotted growing at the site earlier this year.

Councillor Simon Speller, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Climate Change, said:

“Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for their favourite name for the new woodland. Along with the local school children and community who helped to plant the trees, you have played your part in Stevenage’s history with the largest tree planting in our town for decades.

“We know how important trees and nature are for our health and wellbeing, as well as for the planet. We hope that Fairlane Wood and its benefits will be enjoyed by Stevenage residents for years to come.”

Also, as a thank you for their help in planting the community woodland St Nicholas, Ashtree, Woolenwick, Almond Hill and Peartree Spring schools were all invited to come along and had the opportunity to see a range of wild birds up close.

They also took part in a woodland walk to learn more about the trees and wildlife in the woods, as well as collecting some tree seeds along the way. They will all be able to sow their tree seeds, taking them to grow at home or school.