Green shoots of hope for the future of Devon’s treescapes
- Credit: Archant
The launch of the ambitious “Saving Devon’s Treescapes” project has been marked by the planting of its first trees.
Backed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Devon County Council and others, the initiative forms part of Devon’s efforts to address the huge loss of trees as a result of ash dieback. More than 90% of Devon’s native ash trees are expected to be lost due to ash dieback in the next five to 15 years.
Saving Devon’s Treescapes aims to support local communities to plant and nurture 250,000 trees across the county over the next five years - with a particular focus on trees outside of woodlands.
Devon Wildlife Trust is leading on the project on behalf of the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum. Through community engagement, the initiative will enable people to care for and celebrate the county’s treescapes, supporting local action for wildlife and climate change.
The initial planting was carried out at the County Show Ground at Westpoint on land that will become a new orchard, and also marks the start of the tree planting season. Plans are already in place to plant many thousands more trees and shrubs at sites across Devon over the winter months.
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Devon County Council Chairman Stuart Barker, Devon County Council Leader John Hart and Honorary Treasurer of the Devon County Agricultural Association, Sir Harry Studholme, were among the dignitaries involved in the orchard planting, which included traditional Devon apple varieties such as Sweet Alford and Plympton Pippin from Perrie Hale nursery. Saving Devon’s Treescapes volunteers will complete the planting of the orchard over the coming weeks.
Devon County Council Chairman Stuart Barker said: “We want to encourage individuals and community groups around Devon to get involved in tree planting as part of this vital project. We need collective action from all of our communities across Devon to help the county retain its special and distinctive landscape character, while also supporting threatened wildlife and helping to address climate change.”
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Devon County Council Leader John Hart said: “We’re proud to be a part of the Saving Devon’s Treescapes project and pleased to see the first trees planted. These are the first of 250,000 trees which will replace those being lost through Ash dieback and it’s also another important step in our aim for the County Council to be carbon neutral by 2030.”
Rosie Cotgreave, Saving Devon’s Treescapes Project Leader at Devon Wildlife Trust, said: “We are excited to be starting our first planting season for Saving Devon’s Treescapes at Westpoint. With the help of communities across the county we will help ensure Devon’s treescapes are able to recover and thrive. With a special thanks to our funders National Lottery Heritage Fund, One Tree Planted and Tesco Bags of Help.”
Sir Harry Studholme, Honorary Treasurer of the Devon County Agricultural Association and former Chairman of the Forestry Commission, said: “The Devon County Agricultural Association is delighted to support the planting of these first trees through the project. Devon’s farmers, foresters and other landowners have a key role in maintaining Devon’s treescapes. I would urge them to become involved and take advantage of free trees available through this excellent initiative.”
Devon County Council leads the Devon Ash Dieback Forum, which was established in 2016 to address the risks of the disease and is committed to replacing trees lost through ash dieback.
Devon has adopted a 3-2-1 tree replacement principle, where three saplings will be planted for each mature tree it fells due to ash dieback, two saplings will replace a semi-mature tree, and one new sapling will be planted for each ash sapling lost.
For more on the project visit the Devon Wildlife Trust website or for wider background on the disease visit the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum website.