New Exmoor Tree Nursery Part of National Park 'Land Visioning'


A new tree nursery will go ahead in Exmoor National Park thanks to funding from Devon Environment Foundation, Devon Community Foundation and donations to CareMoor for Exmoor.

It forms part of ongoing ‘Land Visioning’ work the National Park Authority is leading across its own estate (comprising 7 per cent of the National Park), bringing together key stake holders to propose fresh ways of enhancing the land for nature, climate mitigation, people and cultural heritage. An update on the proposals is due to be given to Members at next month’s Exmoor National Park Authority meeting on 6th April.

Graeme McVittie, Senior Woodlands Officer for Exmoor National Park, said: “The new tree nursery will be an important source of high-quality saplings, derived from seeds gathered locally with the help of communities and volunteers, who will also be offered expert training. Species such as wych elm, aspen, black poplar and whitebeams, can be harder to source from commercial nurseries, so we particularly hope to create a pipeline to increase representation of these distinctive varieties.”

A report released ahead of the meeting details progress on four initial projects set across Exmoor National Park Authority land:

  1. Funding for a new tree nursery based on the Dartmoor Moor Trees model and aimed at creating resilient native woodlands on Exmoor with the help of local communities. This in turn will help to prevent downstream flooding and soil erosion to enhance water quality and biodiversity.
  2. The planting of around 12,000 trees to establish new woodland at Bye Hill near Winsford, thanks to a Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant and funding from Somerset West and Taunton Council.
  3. Restoring a former Picturesque wild garden in Simonsbath, dating from the Georgian era, with the help of the community and local volunteers. Over 90 trees, including some donated by Exmoor Parish Council, have recently been planted there, along with a traditional apple orchard. It forms part of ongoing work to replant the garden, while also helping to mitigate the loss of nearly 30 per cent of the woodland due to Ash Dieback.
  4. A trial of peatland restoration at Larkbarrow, near Exford, aimed at restoring the hydrology of the peat bogs to enhance natural habitats and increase carbon sequestration and further boosting the Site of Special Scientific Interest towards favourable condition. Specially designed dams, constructed with timber sustainably sourced from the National Park’s own woodlands, are being used to sensitively block up centuries-old ditches without impacting on the character of this much-loved landscape along with important historic features.

Rob Wilson-North, Exmoor National Park Authority’s Head of Conservation and Access, said: “The Defra-commissioned Landscapes Review challenged National Parks to do more for nature, and for people. Behind each of these initial projects is our ambition to address the climate emergency and the ecological crisis; to care for Exmoor’s cultural heritage and to ensure that Exmoor continues to provide the beauty and tranquillity that is so vital to people’s health and wellbeing. This is blue skies thinking and we feel the time is right to use our own land to rise to some of the big challenges of our time.”

Exmoor National Park Authority owns around 7 percent of the National Park. This includes around 2000 hectares of high moorland (equivalent to the area of 76,000 tennis courts), a 400 hectare hill farm and 600 hectares of woodland encompassing rare coastal woodlands and temperate rainforest, alongside our award-winning National Park Centres and Pinkery Residential Centre. For more information see:

Published: 6 April 2021

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