A SMALL army of hardy workers will venture deep into a forest over the coming months in a race against time to plant 40,000 trees - all by hand.

Trees to be planted in Guisborough Forest include Sitka spruce and a small number of Serbian spruce.

The planting is a trial scheme while the forest is undergoing a long-term plan to increase its diversity.

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But the clock is ticking as trees must be planted before the weather gets too warm and sapling roots become active.

Jon Bates, from the Forestry Commission, said: "Unlike many aspects of forestry, tree planting has not been mechanised, so it's all done by hand.

"A skilled operator can plant more than 1,000 trees per day and given the size of the job and limited time, that's just as well."