A ten-year plan tree strategy adopted by Somerset Council

A TEN-year plan to enhance and protect Somerset trees and woodland has been adopted by Somerset Council.

Amongst its aims, the strategy sets out a plan for planting 240 hectares of new trees and woodlands each year across the county until 2033.

From Somerset’s famous apple orchards and to Exmoor’s mighty oaks, this would increase the county’s tree coverage from its current 8% to the national average of 13% and more if possible.

As one of the council’s priorities is to create a greener, more sustainable Somerset the strategy recognises the Council’s role in helping tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss and has been developed in partnership with the Environment Agency, Somerset Local Nature Partnership, Exmoor National Park, Quantock Hills, AONB Partnership, The Forestry Commission and The Woodland Trust.

Built around five themes, the strategy seeks to strengthen the county’s bond with its trees, creating a ‘wood culture’ where the people of Somerset can access and be a part of caring about Somerset’s woodland.

Work is already underway with the creation of three new posts, funded through a successful bid to Defra’s Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund. With tasks including supporting existing tree groups and encouraging new ones, these roles are expected to be in place by the beginning of the summer.

As climate change brings warmer temperatures and more extreme weather conditions, the strategy also aims to make Somerset’s woodlands more resilient and adaptable to these changes by protecting, expanding, managing, and diversifying our existing treescapes.

Councillor Sarah Dyke, Lead Member for Environment and Climate Change said “We have a rich history of trees in our landscapes, but our woodland cover is below the national average. This is a strategy that covers ecology, climate, and communities to enhance and protect its trees for the future and I would urge everyone to read it – there is no better way to help and be a part of your community than to make that difference by planting trees.”

The five themes of the tree strategy are:

  • Create a wood culture, where everyone understands the importance of trees to the county, its natural environment, and its communities.
  • Make our trees resilient and adaptable to climate change by protecting, expanding, managing, and diversifying our existing treescapes.
  • Expand tree coverage in Somerset, through planting initiatives, in urban and rural areas, to create cohesive and connected treescapes that include woodlands, parks, roadsides and urban spaces.
  • Create a range of services and products that allow our treescapes to contribute to society through local supply chains and the creation of natural capital opportunities.
  • Create a sustainable and flexible governance structure that ensures the successful implementation of the strategy over the next ten years.
  • By coming together to deliver this strategy everyone in Somerset can help prevent further decline of our natural environment and help to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Somerset has a deep and rich history in managing its trees. The “Sweet Track” and other bronze age structures on the Somerset levels represent some of the earliest known examples of substantial volumes of timber use in the UK, likely from managed resources.

Read the full Somerset Tree Strategy

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