Work starts on major community woodland

4 min


90,000 trees to be planted within three years   

The National Trust is putting down the roots of its first major community woodland, with 90,000 trees due to be planted over the next three years. 

The conservation charity aims to create nearly 300 acres of woodland at Wembury Barton Farm – situated on the stunning south Devon coast. The size will be equivalent to 168 football pitches. 

The existing 89 acres of woodland at Wembury will be expanded by nearly 210 acres over the next three years. The resulting trees and plant-life will form a rich mosaic of woodland and pasture. 

Nearly 2.5 miles of new hedgerow and banks will also be planted. It’s expected the area will capture and store a significant amount of carbon as the trees mature. 

A wide range of people will be able to enjoy the woodland with a network of new pathways being developed. It’s hoped that bringing people closer to nature will help to improve both their mental and physical well-being. 

‘A woodland of this scale can really start to address the climate emergency and create nature-rich habitats, while also providing accessible places for people to appreciate and treasure,’ says Richard Snow, National Trust Countryside Manager at Wembury.

‘It’s all about the right trees in the right place. Here at Wembury, the dream is becoming a reality as a carefully planned mix of native trees and wood pasture creates a lasting legacy, which will forever be a special place in the landscape.’ 

Native broadleaf trees

There will be more than 25 different species of native trees, with a predominance of oaks which will give it the greatest chance of surviving changes in climate and any future tree diseases. 

The Woodland Trust has supplied most of the native broadleaf trees. These were sourced and grown in the UK and Ireland. There’ll also be an orchard of fruit trees, planted in an area which is known to be good for bats. 

A volunteer with saplings that will make up the National Trust’s first community woodland at Wembury, Devon. Copyright: National Trust Images. Photographer: Paul Harris.

Wood pasture is an open landscape of flower-rich meadows where animals can graze and shelter around trees and shrubs. 

By this spring alone, with the public’s help, more than 33,000 trees will be planted, covering just over 40 acres. 

‘The community woodland at Wembury sits in a dramatic coastal location near Plymouth, and not only will nature flourish here but so will people,’ says Peter Hawking-Sach, Project Manager at Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest.

‘Future generations will help to shape their environment through involvement in creating and managing the rich mix of habitats that make up this woodland.’ 

‘Unlike traditional forests, Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest isn’t geographically restricted to one place.’ 

‘Instead, it encompasses a mix of community woodlands, private woodlands, urban street trees, wooded habitat corridors, and hedgerows across South and West Devon.’

Wildlife homes for bats and mammals

As the woodland at Wembury springs into life, it will create new homes and corridors for wildlife including bats and other mammals such as hares, barn owls and small rodents. 

The charity adds that woodcocks, redstarts and fieldfares will be among the many different types of bird life which will be attracted to the site. It’s hoped that the area will also see the return of the rare migrating clouded yellow butterflies. 

Managers say creating such a large and diverse woodland offers many people the chance to get involved with and love the nature near where they live. 

The National Trust team at Wembury will care for the site alongside a team of local volunteers and community groups. 

‘We are in the midst of a biodiversity and climate crisis and need to do all we can to provide more space for nature and store carbon across all National Trust land,’ says John Deakin, Head of Woodlands at the National Trust.

‘This project is a fantastic example of ambition put into action, providing long-term benefits for people and nature and making a significant contribution to the Trust’s commitment to achieving a carbon net zero target by establishing 20 million trees on our land by 2030.’ 

The project has been made possible thanks to Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest scheme. 

The project is a partnership between the National Trust, Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council together with the Woodland Trust. It’s funded by Defra’s Trees for Climate programme.

Featured Image: Volunteers gather at Wembury in Devon to hear plans for community woodland and to start planting the first of 90,000 trees. Copyright: National Trust Images. Photographer: Paul Harris.

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