Feb 16 2022

Working together across the South West – A review of 2021

While COVID created many challenges, we can still be proud of what we’ve achieved, much of which would not have been possible without our volunteers.


Our woods became important places to visit for many visitors. In the South West we kept all our woods open to the public throughout the lockdowns. To coincide with increased visitors, some who may not have visited our woods before, the Trust is running a Love Your Woods campaign to engage with visitors to enable them to enjoy their visit whilst helping us care for these woods.


Protecting trees and woodlands

As always, a key goal has been to protect the trees that already exist, particularly those in ancient woodlands as these provide a vital habitat for wildlife.

While HS2 doesn’t impact the South West, many of our ancient woodlands are still threatened by development. With your help, we’ve continued campaigning to protect these woods. This includes opposing the rerouting of the A417 through the Cotswolds, as the proposed route would impact several ancient and veteran trees and potentially affect an ancient semi-natural woodland.

In 2021, The Woodland Trust successfully pushed for robust, enforceable tree protection policies to be included in several Councils’ Local Plans, including the Cornwall AONB Management Plan, South Gloucestershire Green Infrastructure Strategy and Taunton Garden Town Planning Policy.

We’re expanding our work to protect ancient woods and trees. The ancient tree inventory has enabled, through volunteer activity, the mapping of many ancient, veteran and notable trees. However, we are aware that there are gaps in the inventory, so we successfully applied for a grant from The Green Recovery Challenge Fund to close these gaps. As well as finding out where these trees are located, we also need to know what condition they’re in.. Over 9000 hectares have been surveyed in Devon, as part of this project, assessing over 13,000 trees.


Restoring ancient woodlands

Many of the South West’s ancient woodlands have been planted with conifers and other non-native trees. While this benefited the timber industry, it had a negative impact on local wildlife. We’re working to restore some of these woodlands to allow native trees, flowers and wildlife to thrive.


Restoration work has been taking place at several of our woods during 2021 including Fingle and Ausewell (with the National Trust), Cadora, Laycombe and Duncliffe.


Felling has also been taking place to remove ash trees affected by Ash dieback. Affected ash trees are felled  where there are safety reasons. Where possible some will remain as they provide vital deadwood. We also hope that these may show some tolerance to this catastrophic disease.



Creating new woodlands

We have been helping to create new woodlands. Across the South West, we’ve provided hundreds of thousands of saplings to communities, schools, farmers and local authorities. Our MOREwoods project is helping to create 111 hectares of new woodland across 142 sites.


We also drove the creation of the Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest – which is engaging young people to help plant up to 1,900ha of urban forest.


As well as being the 50th birthday of the Woodland Trust, 2022 is also the Platinum Jubilee. We are promoting the planting of the Queen’s Green Canopy and over the next few weeks are supporting Devon County Council via our Emergency Tree Fund to run 14 events were communities are planting trees across the South Hams area of Devon.



Working together

Partnerships are vital to the Woodland Trust. In 2021, we worked with numerous organisations, including the National Trust, Natural England, Wildlife Trusts and National Parks.

And, of course, we rely on individual volunteers, like you. The restoration work at Fingle took 18,000 volunteer hours in 2021 alone! We simply couldn’t operate without you. Across the UK, volunteers saved the Woodland Trust more than £2 million in 2021.

So, whether you’ve helped to plant and care for trees, engage with visitors or inspire the next generation of nature lovers, thank you.

There will be new volunteering opportunities throughout 2022, so if you are looking for new challenges keep an eye on our volunteering pages to find out more.

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