The National Trust has planted thousands of young saplings in areas across the UK as part of its ambitions to attract more wildlife, create new homes for nature, protect landscapes prone to flooding and to help in the fight against climate change.
The conservation charity has planted 60,000 trees over recent months, despite the coronavirus pandemic, kickstarting plans to plant and establish 20 million trees across England, Wales and Northern Ireland by 2030.
In North Devon the National Trust aims to create mosaics of new woodland, right on the coast – a unique environment which in 50-100 years will benefit nature including pollinators, small mammals and bats, plus people.
By planting 125,000 trees over the next few years to expand existing areas of woodland, the aim is to help tackle the climate crisis and build a natural corridor to give wildlife a better chance of survival.
The team kicked off this ambitious project last year by planting 16,000 trees with the help of the local community, just before the coronavirus pandemic on Exmoor, Abbotsham Cliff, Brownsham (near Hartland), and at Woolacombe. The trees are already doing well, in particular the oak and hazel, with minimal losses, despite the coastal gales and drought last spring.
This month the tree planting continues with 600 more trees being planted around Woolacombe and the team is also planting a small orchard at Baggy Point. This has been partly sponsored by the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), North Devon biosphere and through memorial donations. Later this year an additional 40-60,000 trees will also be planted, funded by donations, legacies and memberships.
The new orchard at Baggy Point will be a great space for the community and visitors to enjoy and a haven for wildlife. Thirty Devon apple tree varieties will be planted this month, part of a larger project to bring nature closer to people, which includes the creation of a wildflower meadow at Middleborough Hill.
Selaine Saxby MP fort North Devon said:
“I have just been given one cherry blossom tree by the National Trust which I am going to be planting later in the year in Westleigh and I have recently planted a tree in West Yelland alongside those planted by my parliamentary predecessors. While not on the same scale as these schemes, every tree counts.
“I am delighted that much of the National Trusts early works on these schemes has been happening in North Devon and on Exmoor and I do hope that we can all get involved and support what they are doing.”
John Deakin, Head of Woodland and Trees at the National Trust said:
“The first two years of our ten year plan was always going to be about doing the research and scoping out the right places to plant and establish trees – to try to ensure we maximise in balance the benefit to nature, regenerate landscapes or creating new woodlands near urban areas.
“Taking this time to plan means ensuring we avoid areas where trees might damage important existing habitat, or actually release carbon from certain soil types, like peat.
“Similarly, we need to ensure important historic views and parklands are maintained appropriately. We’re also considering where trees could provide the biggest benefit for nature, climate and people – for instance by expanding and linking existing woodland, or by identifying locations near towns and cities where many people will be able to enjoy them.
“There are many stages to this work, starting with computer modelling, mapping and then getting out to actually walk the sites so we can ‘ground truth’ the data – there really is no substitute for actually getting out on the ground to understand the lay of the land.”
The largest project to get underway to date is the creation of a coastal woodland and wood pasture right here in North Devon where 16,600 trees have been planted so far funded by Cotswold Outdoors and supporter donations. The aim is to plant a total of 125,000 trees over the next three to five years.
Daniel Cameron, National Trust ranger says:
“We aim to create mosaics of new woodland, right on the coast – a unique environment which in 50-100 years will benefit nature including pollinators, small mammals and bats, plus people.
“By expanding existing areas of woodland, the aim is to help tackle the climate crisis and build a natural corridor to give wildlife a better chance of survival.
“There are so many benefits to planting trees; we can improve valuable habitats and biodiversity while making an impact on carbon emissions that contribute climate change. Besides all of this, trees create a wonderful oasis to escape for peace and tranquility."
For more information on the National Trust’s tree planting ambitions, or to make a donation, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/plant-a-tree