Over 130 volunteers of all ages gathered at West Clyst farm to plant 1,000 new trees to help enhance the Clyst Valley.
The volunteers, including 60 children from West Clyst Community Primary School, joined East Devon District Council's Clyst Valley Regional Park team to plant a selection of native trees and shrubs to recreate a historic orchard, half an acre of woodland and a new hedgerow in the heart of the Clyst Valley.
90m of new hedgerow was planted including hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, hazel and dogwood. Local contractor Ed Shere brought his cleverly designed machinery for scarifying the ground and laying the mulch mat for the hedgerow. The Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group guided everyone in how to plant to ensure every tree gets the best start in life.
An acre of historic orchard was restored adding 28 new apple trees, including local Devon varieties such as Tom Putt, Don's Delight and Reverend McCormick, to fill in gaps between existing trees many of which are 100 years old.
Half an acre of new woodland was planted with English oak, aspen, rowan, Scot’s pine, downy birch and holly. This will provide a much-needed buffer to the M5 at West Clyst to reduce traffic noise and emissions to help combat climate change, as well as increase wildlife. The project also meets one of Clyst Valley's key objectives to protect irreplaceable habitats, restore natural processes and increase the size, quality, quantity and connectivity of priority natural habitat and populations of key species.
Councillor Geoff Jung, East Devon District Council's Portfolio Holder for the environment commented,
It may surprise some of you, but East Devon has only about 12% tree cover. We know that trees are important to capture carbon, good for retaining water to help prevent flooding, and great for wildlife habitat. Many European countries have 30% or more tree cover, even London has more at 22%! So we are very grateful to all the volunteers who turned up over the weekend to help us plant more trees and hedges in the Clyst Valley.
The Clyst Valley Regional Park is supported by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and has been given special protection by East Devon District Council with the aim of creating high quality green spaces linked by trails.