A CUMBRIAN prison has pledged to plant rare aspens in their grounds, as part of a mission to reintroduce threatened species.

With National Tree week running from November 28 to December 6, the Back on our Map (BOOM) project plans to start work with inmates at HMP Haverigg Prison to establish sapling growing nurseries and planting areas.

BOOM’s aspen lead, Ellie Kent, said as much of the project’s community work had been postponed by Covid, the prison’s input had been invaluable, with BOOM aiming to replant over 4,000 trees across multiple projects.

Ms Kent added that aspen are crucial, as no other British tree supports more biodiversity, but due to land use changes and increased grazing only a few isolated strands are left in the county.

“We are determined to plant as many as possible in key areas. Their extensive root systems mean they bind soil together, slowing water and reducing flooding,” she said.

A consignment of saplings from aspen charity Eadha Enterprises and native trees from OVO Energy is expected at Haverigg on December 8.

Ms Kent said: “The idea is that inmates will plant within the nurseries they have successfully established inside the boundary fences and prepare a second aspen area on the prison approaches for local schoolchildren to work on next year.”

The prison’s community outreach manager, John McInally, said working with BOOM had brought many benefits.

“The project has meant our residents are able to make an invaluable contribution to native tree cultivation and improving wildlife across the area,” he said.