Devon County Council has teamed up with Parklife South West
Planting of the first 4,000 trees through the Woodland Trust’s Emergency Tree Fund (ETF) project in Devon is being carried out by a partnership of local councils, community groups and schools.
Thanks to the £300,000 fund, Devon County Council has teamed up with Parklife South West who will be co-ordinating the work on the ground. Parklife South West is a not-for-profit social enterprise set up in 2019 to provide opportunities for individuals and community groups to get involved with environmental projects in the places where they live.
South Hams District Council, along with Ivybridge Town and Wembury Parish Councils, are among the first to take part in the initiative and they’re helping to plant 4,000 broadleaf whips at 14 different sites by the end of March.
The emergency tree fund in Devon has been set up to get local councils and organisations involved in tree planting to highlight how it can be accelerated across Devon to help address climate change, absorb carbon, support nature recovery and counter the effects of tree diseases such as ash dieback. South Hams District Council has already got the project off to a flying start planting 300 trees at Woodland Park in Ivybridge and Follaton Arboretum in Totnes.
Ivybridge Town Council was joined by volunteers to plant 500 trees at Victoria Park in the town. A further 400 trees will be planted at Filham Park in Ivybridge and South Hams District Council will be planting 500 trees at Torr Park in Ivybridge with the help of pupils from Partly Manor Primary School. The District Council will also plant 250 trees at Woodlands Cemetery and 400 trees at Jawbones in Dartmouth
Later this month all of the children at Wembury Primary School will help to plant 600 trees in the school grounds.
There will also be a community planting day to plant 200 trees at Down Thomas Recreation Field in Wembury parish on Thursday 24 February, and 200 trees will be planted at Wembury Recreation Ground on Friday 25 February by Wembury Environment Group and the local community.
In March, volunteers in Ivybridge will join the Town Council to plant a total of 400 trees at Holman Way, St Peters Way, and MacAndrews Field.
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “Devon is the most wooded county in the south west, but we need more trees. They’re so important for soaking up carbon, provide important habitats for wildlife and they're good for our wellbeing. The Emergency Tree Fund is aiming to create a co-ordinated approach to tree planting across Devon and we’re keen to encourage other town and parish councils to get involved in the project. This is a great start in the South Hams for this season, and we’re hoping other areas will get on board for the next tree planting season.”
Councillor Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: “It is a truly befitting celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee that so many sites can be planted across the South Hams as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy. This will leave a legacy that will bring joy to future generations.
"Planting trees across the District and improving our biodiversity gain is one of our key aims in our bid to fight climate change. Parklife is doing a wonderful job planting the trees on our behalf to meet these aims, and we would like to get as many communities involved as possible in the planting. There is much to do to make a difference and it starts here for the future of our children. Please volunteer to help either this season, or later as there is more planting to follow again in the autumn.”
Keith Rennells from ParkLife said: “We’re increasingly finding that people are asking what they can do to help, whether it’s a response to the climate or biodiversity emergencies, the result of the pandemic lockdowns or simply because people want to improve the places where they live.
"Environmental volunteering can provide some really positive answers – as well as the benefits to landscape and biodiversity, there is an opportunity to be active in the great outdoors, so these projects are great for the health and wellbeing of those taking part. And of course, it’s great socially to work alongside like-minded people!”
Councillor Sara Hladkij, Ivybridge Town Council Mayor, said: “We’re excited that Ivybridge has been chosen to be part of this project. As a town council we’re very supportive of tree planting and we feel very strongly about the difference trees can make in tackling climate change and reducing carbon. And on a personal level, as tree warden for Ivybridge, it’s an initiative that’s close to my heart. It’s great for the health and wellbeing of the volunteers who are planting the trees, and for the town, trees just make everywhere look so much better, so it’s a win-win.”
Councillor Dan Brown, Chair of Wembury Parish Council, said: “This project has been met with a great deal of local enthusiasm. The Parish is delighted that local school children will have the opportunity to plant trees that, in time, they will see grow to mature.”
This tree planting is also supporting the Queen's Green Canopy initiative to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as well as marking 50 years of the Woodland Trust – the charity’s roots are in Devon after starting with its first purchase of woodland in the South Hams
Ross Kennerley, South West Regional Director for the Woodland Trust, said: "Working in partnership and supporting others to create, protect and restore our woodlands is key to success. It is 50 years from the start of the Woodland Trust (whose first wood was in the Avon Valley in South Hams), and the need to take action for trees has not gone away. This is one of many partnerships we are involved in across Devon and we can see the benefits of this approach. It is great to see that our work with Devon County Council is enabling towns and parishes to identify where they want more trees in their area and involve the local community in planting the trees."
In December, more than 3,150 trees were planted by landowners across the county who were offered free tree packs by Devon County Council to support The Queen’s Green Canopy.
The emergency tree fund project is looking to work with more town, parish and district councils, as well as other partner organisations that would like to create, restore and expand woodland habitat in their area in the next planting season (2022/23).
Devon County Council and the Woodland Trust are also working closely together to support the Saving Devon's Treescapes initiative. Run by the Devon Wildlife Trust on behalf of the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum and with assistance from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, this project is promoting community engagement in tree issues to help Devon’s landscapes to cope with the devastating loss of ash trees through disease.