DOZENS of green-fingered volunteers planted small saplings to create a new community woodland.

Included in the line up of eager tree planters were Basingstoke MP Maria Miller and the borough council’s environment chief, Councillor Robert Donnell.

The two-day Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council-run event is part of a long-term plan to build a “green corridor” that links two major woodland areas at Crabtree Plantation and Basing Fen.

Last Friday, a handful of helpers spent the day preparing the plot off Old Basing’s Redbridge Lane, as well as planting the saplings, and then enclosing them in protective sleeves.

Eight-year-old Ben Fernandez, from Buckskin, Basingstoke, said he relished the chance to be outside. “I am really enjoying it,” he said. “I have never got the chance to plant a lot of things, but I like doing this.”

Cllr Donnell said the planting scheme would help to improve the countryside. “One of the reasons Basingstoke is such a great place to live is because we have the countryside so near, so it is a priority to protect and improve it.

“Everyone in the town des-erves to have access to green space as it is good for our health and mental states.”

And Mrs Miller added: “The council’s vision is to create a green corridor to promote local wildlife and improve this as an area for people to enjoy.”