Dec 07 2020

Creating Woodlands

Tree planting activities, especially public tree planting events, have been affected this year. The need for woodland creation has not gone away and our outreach team (those who liaise with landowners) have continued to build relationships and explore opportunities for tree planting or natural woodland regeneration.  Here is a flavour of what has been happening

Flooding affects many areas of the South West and climate change will make this worse.  A project across North Devon, the Camel Estuary and Blackdown Hills is helping to minimise the risk by installing ‘leaky dams’ and planting more than 40,000 trees.  As well as reducing the risk of flooding the project should help to tackle soil erosion and reduce pollution. This project is managed by the North Devon Biosphere team and supported by the Environment Agency, the Woodland Trust, the Blackdown Hills AONB and the Forestry Commission.

In the northern end of the region a collaboration between Herefordshire council and the Woodland Trust has meant that 10 woodland creation schemes have been made possible. The planting schemes once again are related to opportunities where water quality can be improved and trees are provided through the Woodland Trust’s MOREWoods scheme – funded by Lloyds Banking Group. We are also providing trees to North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils to support their tree planting targets and plans.

Last year we worked with the National Farming Union in Gloucestershire. Working together the Woodland Trust provided 6000 native trees for farms across the county and the NFU liaised with its members to distribute to where they were needed. A similar scheme is being delivered again this year and we have ambitions to work with the NFU in other South West counties too – building and refining this process.

Around 1.7 million ash trees in Devon are expected to be killed by ash dieback in the coming years. Saving Devon’s Treescape is a project supporting local communities to plant and nurture more than 250,000 trees to replace some of those ash trees that will be lost. The focus is on native Devon species including oak, birch, aspen and field maple. The project is led by Devon Wildlife Trust on behalf of the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum and is funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by many other organisation including ourselves.  We are donating 60,000 natives trees to this project which will be supplemented by trees from newly established community

When you see a newly planted area it is often a sea of plastic guards. Young saplings need projecting from rabbits and other animals (and depending on the location a rogue football).  We are trialling a range of biodegradable tree guards on our estate and also beginning to expand the trial working with a couple of private landowners in Devon and Wiltshire. The planting areas will be fenced and the 40 -60cm whips will be planted in 55cm high cardboard guards. The guards should last long enough for the trees to get established and will then completely degrade, with the added bonus that they won’t need someone to go back out and remove them.

Partnership working is vital , by working together we can identify tree planting opportunities as part of a landscape scale plan and support getting trees in the ground. It is hoped that this time next year we can return to more public facing events too which resonate so strongly with people.

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