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Council Proposes to Create New Woodland Sites

24 January 2022

Tree draft

Land near Yelverton and Horrabridge could be in line for natural woodland regeneration if proposals go ahead. West Devon Borough Council will hear an update about the plans at Hub Committee on Tuesday 1 February.

In their 'Plan for West Devon', the Borough Council outline their aims to support nature recovery by creating larger wildlife habitats and woodland habitat corridors. These proposed natural woodland regeneration sites would increase the biodiversity value of the Council-owned sites, as well as helping with natural flood management and extending nearby woodland corridors.

The plans for the first of the two council-owned sites at Harrowbeer Lane, Yelverton, includes three fields of overgrown pasture which already has some evidence of young trees starting to appear after grazing ended at the site a few years ago. The second site at Bedford Bridge near Horrabridge, includes two fields, which are currently grazed but have ample local seed sources and potential for natural regeneration.

Both sites are earmarked to create new woodland, with the natural regeneration approach and the habitat it supports as the sites evolve to woodland expected to hugely enhance their biodiversity value.

The Council is planning to apply to the 'English Woodland Creation Offer' for funding, which would pay for the preparation and maintenance of the fields. These sites are within areas identified by the Forestry Commission as a high priority for nature recovery by joining up with existing neighbouring areas of important woodland habitat.

Natural woodland regeneration is becoming increasingly popular as a more nature led approach to woodland creation. The approach has lower costs, avoids the use of plastic tree guards, and uses self-seeded trees of local provenance. This results in a healthier woodland with trees well adapted to their natural environment and more disease resistant.

Positive early talks have been held with the Forestry Commission, the Woodland Trust and Dartmoor National Park Authority about the proposals. There would also be benefits in terms of locking up carbon within the new trees, with a potential partnership approach with the Woodland Trust to be explored, with the sites expected to be registered under the Woodland Carbon Code.

A Spokesperson for West Devon Borough Council, said: "It's in our Plan for West Devon to increase biodiversity. We promised to work with our partners to promote tree planting within the Borough and to improve wooded habitat corridors, so that is what we are proposing to do, and in this case by making nature led use of Council owned land to deliver woodland in areas identified as priorities for woodland nature recovery."

You can watch the Hub Committee live here: www.engagement.westdevon.gov.uk

Find out more about the Woodland Carbon Code here: https://woodlandcarboncode.org.uk/

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