Replacing trees

Plan now to plant in the next planting season (1 November- 31 March).

To minimise the damage caused by ash dieback, and to keep our countryside and urban environment attractive to both us and wildlife, we need to start encouraging new trees, of different species, now. It’s important we don’t wait until most of our ash trees are dead or dying. Trees store carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, so planting more trees is a great way to respond to the current climate change emergency declared by many organisations operating within Devon, including Devon County Council.

This page is a call for action to communities and landowners to establish more trees, encourage natural regeneration, and find suitable replacement species for Ash.

Key principles to follow are:

  1. Don’t wait! Start promoting new trees and taking better care of trees other than ash now.
  2. Use the Devon 3/2/1 formula: at least 3 new trees for loss of a large tree, 2 for a medium tree and 1 tree for a small tree.
  3. Encourage a diverse range of trees.
  4. Grow the right trees in the right places in the right ways, and give them the right aftercare.
  5. Promote natural regeneration wherever possible.
  6. Match planted species to those characteristic of the area and suited to its soil, climate, etc
  7. Choose native species, or those long-established in Britain. In urban areas it is more acceptable to use species from other parts of the world.
  8. Try to plant only trees grown solely in Britain, UK sourced and grown (UKSG), preferably from seed sourced from South-West England. Ensure any material brought from aboard has been subject to the full quarantine procedures required under law. Ensure that suppliers of non-native plants comply with passporting and registering requirements.

Establishing trees in the right place with the right aftercare

First, make sure you avoid planting trees in unsuitable locations, which may include some statutorily designated and other sites. Please visit the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre website and check your proposed planting site against Devon County Council’s online environmental viewer.

Second, if planning a new woodland, make sure that you plan its location, design and sustainable management in accordance with the standards and guidelines set down in the UK Forestry Standard. Contact the Forestry Commission for more information and advice on this.

Natural regeneration

Often the best way to encourage new trees is to plant them, but natural regeneration should be encouraged in woodlands and hedgerows, and selecting promising sapling and stems to grow on is often more successful and easier.

Bridge the gap

For advice on which species to plant to replace ash, and further advice on how to encourage new trees, see the Forum’s advice note:  Replacing Ash: appropriate tree selection

There is no one tree that can replace ash. Aspen, sycamore and elm are the closest match. Diversity is the answer!

Free tree scheme

We are working on a scheme to supply free trees for planting by community groups and landowners this forthcoming planting season (1 December 2019 to 31 March 2020). But we’re not quite ready yet. Watch this space!