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Planting to get underway at 'Bye Wood'

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As UN climate talks continue in Glasgow this week, work is about to start on ‘Bye Wood’ – a major new Exmoor woodland being created as part of a drive to increase woodland cover in the National Park from 13.5% towards the recommended 17% by 2050.

At a ‘breaking ground’ event set to take place this weekend (6th & 7th November), the first 300 of 13,000 trees will be planted at the Exmoor National Park Authority-owned site, near Winsford. Volunteers, families from the local school, members of the community and those who have so far donated to a special CareMoor Woods & Trees Appeal will all be on hand to help with the tree planting effort.

Among the new saplings will be a special grove of 70 English oaks sourced locally and planted for the Queen’s Green Canopy – a nationwide tree planting campaign leading up to Her Majesty’s jubilee year in 2022. More than half of the oaks have been donated by the Exmoor Pony Project and grown using Exmoor Compost's ‘Exmoor Pony Poo Multi-Purpose Compost’ - set up in lockdown and now supplying gardeners and growers from West Somerset to North Devon with a sustainable peat free alternative.

The Jubilee grove is a key design feature of the new wood intended to provide an open nature-rich glade for people to enjoy and connect with the landscape around them. But with climate resilience now a major consideration for all woodland creation schemes, not all of the tree species chosen will be native varieties.

Exmoor National Park Authority Woodlands Assistant Jack Hunt, who has played a key role in the design process, explains: “We wanted Bye Wood to have multiple objectives: habitat creation, carbon storage, increasing landscape connectivity for wildlife, creating a space for local communities, and adding to the local sustainable economy by providing future generations with all the ecosystem services of woodland, including timber and coppice products. Of course, to achieve all these objectives we must think about what the area will be like when the trees we plant are mature.

“In 80 years when our trees reach maturity the climate will be different. It will likely be drier and warmer, with longer and more intense spells of extreme weather. For this reason, we have included a few species not traditionally associated with Exmoor in our plans, including Italian alder and Scots pine, which do well in hotter and drier climates. The result is a mix primed for resilience that is more than the sum of its parts.”

An estimated five million tonnes of carbon are stored in Exmoor's treescape (1 million in hedgerows and freestanding trees alone), helping to capture around 50,000 tonnes of carbon every year. The new woodland will span 12-hectares when complete and be signed up to the UK Woodland Carbon Code, helping lock away an estimated 2600 additional tonnes of carbon over the first 100 years, with carbon sequestration increasing year on year as natural processes kick in.

Graeme McVittie, Senior Woodlands Officer for Exmoor National Park Authority, added: “As the soil biology develops, it will become more efficient at sequestering and storing carbon. This is one reason we are ‘kick-starting’ the process by introducing dead-wood habitats now that wouldn’t normally appear for 50 or 100 years as the trees mature. This involves importing items of timber from other woods nearby and arranging them among the new woodland.”

Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We hope our new woodland will complement and help connect the wonderful variety of trees, hedges, and wooded valleys found within Exmoor’s beautiful landscape, and be cherished for generations to come. Our climate is changing, but by increasing tree cover in the right

places we can lock up more carbon and give nature the best chance to adapt.”

Find out how to dedicate a tree in Bye Wood or donate to the CareMoor Woods & Trees appeal at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor.

ENDS

Published: 4 November 2021

T: 01398 323665
E: info@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk