The work of the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum was given a huge boost in December with the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) announcing its support for the initial phase of the ‘Saving Devon’s Treescapes’ project. The project will focus on trees outside of woodland, raise awareness of the huge threat from ash dieback and engage communities a wide range of new tree planting initiatives. The Devon Wildlife Trust, which submitted the funding bid and will act as lead body, was given the green light to commence the project in mid-January. A dedicated project officer is currently being recruited.
The ‘development phase’ of the project is planned to last 15 months and, subject to the success of the full funding bid, will be followed by a further 4 year ‘delivery phase’. The currently planned value of the entire project is £1.8m, of which £850,000 is expected to be provided by the NLHF. Major funding partners include Devon County Council and The Woodland Trust, with several other local authorities and organisations offering cash or in-kind contributions.
Whilst the work of the project will be spread across Devon, approximately half of its resources will be directed towards five specific areas, as identified on the accompanying plan. These embrace a number of urban centres, as well as rural land, including a cross-boundary area within the Blackdown Hills AONB.
The priority actions that will be promoted through ‘Saving Devon’s Treescapes’ include:
- The planting of 250,000 trees outside of woodlands;
- This new planting to include a new ‘Landmark Tree’ in each Parish, 19,500 trees in ‘fruit routes’ and urban edges, 50 hectares of new copses and field corner planting, 20km of ‘flagship hedgerow’ and the ‘tagging’ of hedgerow trees;
- The establishment and ongoing running of three community tree nurseries, providing a future supply of trees for planting through the project and beyond.
More details relating to the project, including a variety of ‘free tree’ opportunities for individuals and community groups, will be published through the Ash Dieback in Devon web site.