Planting an oak tree launches a wood-creation project

The first tree was planted today in a new forest being created near Lympstone.

Yonder Oak Wood is 54 hectares of land acquired this year by the Woodland Trust, which will turn it into a wildlife refuge by planting 13,000 trees this winter.

An oak tree was planted there this morning (Wednesday 12 October) to officially launch the project and become part of the Queen’s Green Canopy for the Platinum Jubilee year. Public planting sessions will follow in December.

Paul Allen, Woodland Trust Site Manager, said: “With 2022 being the 50th anniversary of The Woodland Trust, against a backdrop of climate change and the biodiversity crisis, we need space for nature more than ever, as at Yonder Oak Wood.

“At Yonder Oak Wood, our main goal is the recovery of nature, and we hope that new trees, both planted and naturally seeded, will allow nature to rebound. Woodland birds have declined by 29% since 1970 and we hope to host willow warblers and spotted flycatchers again, as well as butterflies such as the dull skipper and steers. There is so much potential here.

The Woodland Trust was able to buy the site thanks to what it described as an “incredible” response to a public appeal, which raised £650,000. Further support came from Lloyds Bank and the government’s Landfill Communities Fund, which enabled funder Biffa Award to provide a grant of £750,000.

In addition to ancient woodland flora such as bluebells, the site contains watercourses that will be adapted to create more wildlife habitat, which will also reduce downstream flooding.

Paul said: “Creating a new woodland landscape that will support wildlife far beyond our lifetimes and be resilient to climate change is no small feat. We’ve worked to create a comprehensive design that will guide our work over the next five years, and today we planted the first new trees that will kickstart nature’s recovery.

“With an estuary to the west and moorland to the east, more trees will provide much needed shade for birds and other wildlife, creating a more resilient landscape. This is crucial as our summers are getting hotter and our winters wetter.