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Review of South West Forest Scheme – 20 years from planting

20 April


Review of new planting under the South West Forest Scheme and Notes on Publicly Funded New Planting Schemes for the Future

Review by:    Jez Ralph – Timber Strategies 

The South West Forest saw 3,000 hectares of woodland planted across North Devon and Cornwall between 1997 and 2005.

This study aims to highlight what can be learned from the scheme at a time when the government has committed to large-scale tree planting schemes across the country.

The study and review has been carried out by a partnership of organisations – The Diverse Regeneration Company, Timber Strategies, Devon County Council and the Forestry Commission – giving a full review of how the woodlands have developed over the last 20 years. We have been working alongside Timber Strategies to implement this study, in order to truly understand the longer term issues and successes of tree planting schemes, on both small and large scale projects.  This study will now give us a vital resource to draw from when advising businesses that might be looking to diversify; of the benefits of woodland planting, the longer term implications and the vital need for a good management and maintenance programme over the lifetime of that woodland.

The 20 year stage of a woodland is critical to its future success and during our study across the 3000 hectares, we have seen woodlands with varying degrees of growth and resilience. Often owners were unaware of the importance of active management to ensure a thriving, biodiverse and resilient woodland. They were also unsure of how to deal with the large volumes of ash trees dying from the Chalara epidemic, now sweeping across the country.  As a result of pests and diseases like Chalara or competition from weeds, many young woodlands will be left patchy or even decimated, whilst others, in need of thinning become dark, dense crops with little biodiversity value.   Newly planted woodlands should be long-term havens of biodiversity, a rich resource for local economies and an important store of carbon.

The review raises important questions on how policy makers must ensure long-term management is provided, both through incentives and advice, so as to avoid these woodlands falling into disrepair and not fulfilling their biodiversity or income potential.

The report also highlights how diverse the owners’ views of their woodlands were. For some they are a rich resource for biodiversity, others for their own leisure use. Timber growing is important for some, but for others the woodland is seen as an asset for diversified income – from bird watching to campsites, or for health and wellbeing use,

To read the full review please click on the link below:

SW Forest Review 2020 minus appendices


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Greater Dartmoor Local Enterprise Action Fund South Devon Coastal Local Action Group Trading Standards Approved Cyber Essentials Certified
Greater Dartmoor Local Enterprise Action Fund South Devon Coastal Local Action Group Trading Standards Approved Cyber Essentials Certified