Info for Tree and woodland Owners
There is much information available to help owners and managers look after their trees and woodlands. Exmoor National Park Authority can help with providing advice on managing trees and woodlands, explain the regulations involved with felling and maintaining trees and assist with applying for grant aid.
Please click on the links below to find out more (all links open in a new window).
Here are several links to some external forestry websites:
Forestry Commission - The government department responsible for the protection and expansion of Britain's forests and woodlands. Here you will find a wealth of information on all tree related subjects, woodland grants as well as downloadable publications.
Arboricultural Association - The Association delivers professional standards and guidance on arboricultural best practice. This website allows you to search for arboricultural contractors and consultants approved by the Arboricultural Association as well as download publications on tree care.
Natural England - The government department responsible for protecting and advising on the natural environment in England. Information on wildlife habitats, farming, land management grants, climate change and research.
ConFor - The Confederation of Forest Industries (UK) Ltd. Established to help build the market for timber products and forest services.
Small Woods Association - An organisation to help promote sustainable woodland management in the UK particularly for small woodland owners.
Trees and woodlands have always been subjected to pests and diseases and most of the time they can cope with mild infestations. However, in recent years there has been a number of more agressive pests and diseases which have caused huge problems for woodland owners across the UK. These include the larch disease,Phytophthora ramorum which has devastated the larch woodlands across south west England and ash dieback diease which does not yet have a strong hold in the south west.
There are considered to be two main reasons behind the greater number of pests and diseases finding their way to the UK. One aspect is down to the large global trade in plants and trees which has accidentally introduced pest and disease species from around the world. This has become a problem in other countries as well as the UK and there has consequently been a great deal of co-operation with international scientists to try and tackle these issues. The other reason is due to a changing climate being experienced in the UK such as milder winters which permits some exotic pests from tropical countries to survive through to the following year. Once the pests have established themselves in the UK, they often have a lack of natural predators which would otherwise keep them in check in their own countries.
The Forestry Commission's scientists are also working to find ways of managing the tree pests and diseases and a list of the current areas of concern are listed on their website.
The Forestry Commission also have an on-line reporting system for sending sightings of pests and diseases on trees called Tree Alert. The tree species which are of particular interest are ash, oak, pine, spruce and horse chestnut. To take part and record a sighting, view the Tree Alert pages here.
OPAL stands for OPen Air Laboratories and is an initiative by which everyone can find out not just about tree health, pests and diseases but also about nature in their area. There are surveys which people can take part in and details about projects going on across the country. There is more information on the OPAL website.
The pages below will provide some more background to several current tree pests and diseases relevant to Exmoor.
What are Exmoor National Park Authority’s responsibilities with regard to trees on Exmoor?
Exmoor National Park Authority is responsible only for the trees under our ownership. We own and manage approximately 575 Hecatres of woodland as well as a number of car parks, public conveniences and properties within which trees are present. As with any landowner, we have a 'Duty of Care' requirement to make sure that any trees located on our land are periodically inspected and managed to within acceptable health and safety parameters.
As the Local Planning Authority ENPA has the power to make Tree Preservation Orders, TPOs.
Who is responsible for the management of trees on Exmoor?
The owner of the land on which the tree(s) are growing is solely responsible for the management of those trees. It is up to the landowner to ensure they meet their duty of care responsibilities regarding the safety of trees and organise regular inspections and associated tree work.
Who is responsible for trees on Public Rights Of Way?
Again, it is the responsibility of the landowner to maintain trees and hedges adjacent to or overhanging Public Rights of Way. However, in some situations the National Park Authority may undertake work to remove overhanging vegetation in cooperation with landowners to ensure that the public rights of way network remains in excellent condition. If you are concerned about a tree near a Public Right of Way which is not in your ownership, please contact us.
Am I obliged to prune my trees and keep them tidy?
Tree owners are not obliged to carry out any work to their trees other than to meet their duty of care obligations under the Occupiers Liability Act.
What should I do if I think a tree on my land is dangerous?
You should arrange for it to be inspected by a suitably qualified arboricultural professional such as one approved by the Arboricultural Association. They will advise what action, if any needs to be taken. ENPA can not advise on the safety of trees on private property.
Who should I inform if I want to fell a tree?
If you wish to fell or carry out any work to a tree that is subject to a Tree Preservation Order or within a Conservation Area, you must contact Exmoor National Park Authority. If it is within a Site of Special Scientific Interest, SSSI, you must inform Natural England. If you wish to fell a number of trees you may need a felling licence which can be obtained from the Forestry Commission.
Can trees be felled/pruned at any time of year?
There is no time of the year when work to trees can not be carried out although there are times that are better than others. It is not ideal to carry out tree work at times of increased stress such as leaf burst and leaf fall as a tree's energy levels will be depleted.
It is also recommended that tree work is not carried out between the months of March and September when birds are nesting as the Wildlife and Countryside Act makes it illegal to disturb any nesting bird. Of course it is not always practical and sometimes tree work must be carried out during bird nesting season. It is the responsibility of the person carrying out the work to establish the presence of nesting birds or any protected species e.g. bats.
What should I do if I think someone is disturbing nesting birds/bats?
If you believe that someone is disturbing nesting birds or bats and therefore in contravention of the Wildlife and Countryside Act you should report it to the police. You may wish to also report it to the RSPB (click on the link to open the relevant page).
I am concerned about how someone is carrying out tree work. It doesn’t appear to be being carried out safely. Who should I contact?
If you are concerned about how someone is carrying out tree work you should contact the Health and Safety Executive, HSE. Click here to visit the HSE website.
How do I know if someone has permission to work on a tree protected by a TPO or in a Conservation Area?
Details of all TPO applications and Conservation Area notifications are available to view on the planning pages of this website. If you can not see an application relating to the tree then please contact Exmoor National Park Authority.
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