The project being carried out by the Otter Trust,  is called ‘Essex Black Poplar Working Group’, has been able to continue research into the incredibly rare trees - thanks to £7,000 from Essex & Suffolk Water’s environmental project funding scheme, Branch Out.

The funding will help to carry out further research into DNA analysis and cloning of Black Poplar trees – which are native to East Anglia. 


The rare tree has deeply cracked bark, knobbly 'bosses' on its trunk and spreading branches that often touch the ground, before sweeping upwards again in a mass of twigs.


Ben Potterton, Trustee at The Otter Trust, said: “The Black Poplar, Polpulas nigra, has been identified by the Forestry Commission as the rarest hardwood tree in Britain with around only 7,000 trees remaining.


“The favoured habitat of the black poplar is wet woodland along lowland river valleys and floodplains. This enhances flood resilience in problem areas by slowing river flow into channels.”


“This well-needed funding from Essex & Suffolk Water will help our project so that we can continue DNA analysis of the native Black Poplar. Our volunteers will then be able to take cuttings from these trees across East Anglia and then plant a clone bank at our Dickleburgh Moor site.”


Essex & Suffolk Water's Conservation and Land Manager, Miranda Cooper, added: “It’s fantastic to see that our Branch Out programme is making a positive difference and helping local projects reconnect habitats for the benefit of communities and wildlife.


"This will all help to build resilience, which is essential for supporting a healthy natural environment and for us to supply clear, great tasting drinking water.


"We’re so proud to support local groups, organisations and charities who are helping to make a difference in the communities we serve."


For 2022, Essex & Suffolk Water’s Branch Out fund has focused on Blue Spaces and Canopies to support improvements to the water environment and the Queen’s Green Canopy project. Find out more about the projects supported by the companies funding here:


Projects are also supported by Essex & Suffolk Water's employee volunteering programme, Just an Hour, which allows employees to give a minimum of 15 hours every year to support community and charitable causes close to their hearts.