Trees for Climate

Trees for Climate is a five year, multi-million pound woodland creation programme that offers packages of bespoke advise and financial support to landowners and community groups thinking about tree planting projects.

We've been creating woodland and growing the Forest of Marston Vale for nearly 30 years, and now - through Trees for Climate - we can offer our years of expertise and professional advice along with grants that can cover the costs of creating a new woodland.

The grant is highly flexible and is open to all landowners and land managers. Whether you are a parish council looking to add some shade to a green space or a farmer looking to diversify income streams, we can help.

Launched in November 2020, Trees for Climate is part of the national Government-led Nature for Climate fund and is being delivered by England's Community Forests.

Who we are

We are the Forest of Marston Vale, a Community Forest planting trees and using woodland to make life better for people and wildlife in the Marston Vale - you can find out more by reading our story

As part of our Trees for Climate delivery our professional woodland advisors focus on working with landowners closely to develop and resource tree planting schemes and administer grants.

Our aim is to build successful, long-lasting relationships with many different kinds of landowners around the Forest of Marston Vale and beyond, so we're taking a moment below to introduce the team behind our Trees for Climate project so that you can get to know us before getting in touch:


Nick Marsh - Forest Creation Officer

Nick started his career as a building surveyor following University. After 25 years in the profession, he opted for a change in direction and completed a conservation trainee programme with the Wildlife Trust in Oxfordshire whilst studying forestry at Bangor University. As an intern, he supported the reserve team across areas of SSSI /SAC ancient woodland - some of which were home to the very rare Bechstein’s bat. Nick also worked with the Chilterns Woodland Project gaining forest mensuration experience. He subsequently joined the National Trust, initially as a Ranger managing ancient woodland and chalk grassland sites, subsequently taking up the role of Regional Woodland Project Manager, overseeing the restoration of 2000 ha of priority habitat in the East of England.

Nick has written articles for SWA magazine, National Trust publications and the Woodland Heritage Journal. His specialist subject is the Wild Service Tree, a species which has led him to study in Germany and maintain an active involvement in monitoring a Suffolk trial plantation.

Nick is happy to be joining the Forest of Marston Vale at this exciting time, leading the delivery of this significant Trees for Climate programme of woodland creation.

Nick is responsible for working with farmers and other landowners in securing opportunities for tree planting across the Forest of Marston Vale area, and developing key long-term relationships.


Simon Fisher - Forest Creation Officer

Simon has been involved in countryside and greenspace management since leaving university (back when Return of the Jedi was hitting cinema screens). He spent his first working years with the Chilterns Woodland Project, gaining what he says was "invaluable experience in appreciating woodlands and better understanding them". Since then he’s worked as a Tree Surgeon, Rights Of Way and National Trail Officer and spent time with the Chilterns AONB team.

Simon was also involved in the creation of the Forest of Marston Vale, working with farmers and other landowners on woodland planting and other environmental schemes for over five years before moving on to other challenges. Combined with subsequent time with Bedford Borough Council in different greenspace and parks management roles, this means that he has an in-depth understanding of the local area and issues.

Most recently a Countryside Manager at the National Trust’s Wimpole estate, he toyed with semi-retirement but felt that it was just a little too early to hang up the work boots, and welcomed the opportunity to further contribute towards environmental improvement and positive local changes with the Trees for Climate project. 

Simon works on a part-time basis alongside Nick, to develop and deliver tree planting projects that benefit farmers, other landowners and the environment.


Jo Roberts - Community Engagement Officer

Jo studied Botany at Reading University, and started her career as a Volunteer Officer for what was then BTCV (now TCV) running conservation tasks and learning new skills ranging from hedgelaying to drystone walling. She then joined Earthworks St Albans, a charity dedicated to providing people of all ages and abilities with skills in horticulture and conservation. She set up and ran the Contracts Team, training people to work as a contract gardening team and empowering them to enter paid employment. After three years she found a job with Northants County Council as a Ranger, where she enjoyed the broad range of work involved with the role.

Her passion has always been trees however, so when a job came up with the Forestry Commission - based mainly in the ancient woodlands of Salcey and Hazelborough Forests - she jumped at the opportunity, spending 11 years in their ancient woodlands as an Education Ranger then Recreation Ranger, running volunteer tasks, education visits and events in several different woods. On Saturdays Jo worked as an Assistant Forester at Castle Ashby Estates, managing the ancient woodlands there too.

Five and a half years ago Jo joined the Forest of Marston Vale as Community Engagement Officer, wanting to be part of an exciting project that not only managed woodlands but that created them too. She works with community groups from all over the Forest, hoping that some of her love for trees rubs off on the people she meets.

As part of the Trees for Climate project Jo co-ordinates and delivers community planting in schools, Parish Councils and community spaces.


James Russell - Forest Director

James is a Chartered Forester and Chartered Environmentalist, and has been involved in the creation of the Forest of Marston Vale for nearly 25 years.

After graduating from Cranfield University with a First-Class Honours degree in Environment Management (BSc), he joined the ‘Forest Team’ as a Project Officer, focussing on farm advisory work to encourage tree planting and conservation management. In 1999, he was involved in the formation of the Forest of Marston Vale Trust as the independent charity to spearhead the work to create the Forest, and also helped design and create the Millennium Country Park, now the Trust’s flagship and multi award-winning site.

Progressing to become Woodland Development Manager, he helped secure major grant funding and led on the creation of a new portfolio of large community woodlands close to expanding communities within the Forest – this saw the one millionth tree in the Forest planted in 2008. James became Forest Director in 2009, since then providing the strategic leadership on the creation of the Forest.

During his involvement the Forest of Marston Vale has grown from a vision – with just 3.6% tree cover – to become an emergent reality with over 15% tree cover.

James also has three young daughters, all of whom helped plant their first tree in the Forest before they were six months old!

James oversees all Trees for Climate activity, and acts as a project lead managing the team to deliver against our ambitious goals.


Now you know who we are we'd love to hear form you!

Whether you are a parish council looking to add some shade to a green space or a farmer looking to diversify income streams, we can help. To explore the potential of tree planting on your land through the Trees for Climate please get in touch.

Register your interest