Council embarks on ash dieback replacement planting policy

Devon County Council has begun implementing a tree planting policy which it says will compensate for the anticipated loss of trees to ash dieback across the county.

Image: Devon County Council
Image: Devon County Council

According to its "3-2-1 tree replacement principle", three saplings will be planted for each mature tree it fells due to ash dieback; two saplings to replace a semi-mature tree; and one new sapling for each ash sapling which is lost.

As a first step, it is supporting planting at a farm in the Blackdown Hills area south of Taunton, where a small copse of native, broadleaved trees and shrubs is being created, along with a new length of species-rich hedge.

Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership manager Tim Youngs said: "Ash is a very important component of the Blackdown Hills AONB and working with local communities to help make hedges, copses and woodland in this nationally protected landscape more resilient to the many challenges that they face is vital."

Simon Brenman, who offered some of his Lower Ashculme Farm for planting, said: "We’ve been starting to see the effects of ash dieback already here on the farm, so finding that we could get some financial assistance to help make our vision for a new copse of broadleaf trees into a reality was all we needed to kick into action."

He added: "We’ve chosen a mix of native broadleaf trees and shrubs that are typical for the Blackdowns and carefully selected to be as wildlife-friendly as possible, producing flowers, berries and seeds over a long period."

Councillor Roger Croad, cabinet member with responsibility for the environment, said: "With Devon County Council being forced to remove diseased ash trees which threaten public safety, especially those for which it has responsibility alongside main roads, we have explored options for some early tree replacement.

"Working with Simon and his family will demonstrate how we are complying with the Devon Ash dieback 3-2-1 tree replacement principle and hopefully it might encourage others to do likewise."

The Blackdown Hills Woodlands Association and Woodland Trust have been involved in advising on the proposals, which the Blackdown Hills AONB team will help to implement alongside the landowner.

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