SOMERSET West and Taunton Council and the Exmoor National Park Authority are joining forces to create a new joint position of Forest Creation Officer to support the achievement of local and national tree planting and conservation targets. nature restoration.
The new position, funded by the council and hosted by the National Parks Authority Forestry team, will last for the first two years.
It aims to create 50 hectares of new woodland on Exmoor NPA-owned land within the SWT district boundaries in the first year and to work with interested landowners and partners to create a further 75 hectares in the course of the second year.
An estimated 2,500 hectares of new forest are needed in Exmoor to increase tree cover by 13.5% towards a UK-wide target of at least 17% by 2050 – the amount recommended by the independent government committee on climate change.
The two authorities, which have both declared climate and ecological emergencies, will also work together to plant community forests in towns across the district as part of the Council’s commitment to increase the urban canopy in line with its action plan. for carbon neutrality and climate resilience.
Urban forests will be twinned with newly planted areas on Exmoor to foster stronger community relationships between SWT and the National Park, and provide education about climate change and nature betterment.
Cllr Dixie Darch, Executive Member for Climate at SWT, said: “None of us can tackle climate and ecological emergencies alone, which is why working in partnership is essential to delivering our CNCR plan.
“I am delighted that we are working in conjunction with Exmoor NPA to provide significant tree cover in a specialist-led project, with gains for both urban and rural residents, as well as the wider benefits of nature restoration and carbon sequestration.
“This initiative marks another important step in our long-term commitment to creating a future where people and wildlife thrive together.”
The partnership builds on the success of the National Park Authority’s Bye Wood project. Planting of the new 30-acre wood near Winsford began last year, supported by a financial contribution from SWT and generous public donations to the National Park’s CareMoor Woods and Trees Appeal for use of the tree planting methods. most sustainable and environmentally friendly trees.
It will see just over 13,000 trees planted by the end of next winter, helping to capture around 2,500 tonnes of carbon in the first 50 years of growth.
A supply of local saplings to aid in future tree planting programs are grown at the two organisations’ respective nurseries, using locally collected seed.
Graeme McVittie, Senior Forest Conservation Officer at Exmoor NPA, said: “We are in the midst of a climate emergency, a nature crisis and unprecedented demands on natural resources, and the challenge facing us is posed is clear.
“Expanding tree cover has a significant contribution to make, but making sure we get the right trees in the right places to get the results we need takes focus and skill, especially in sensitive landscapes. such as Exmoor and surrounding areas.
“We are therefore delighted to be working closely with SWT on a joint initiative to provide the necessary support to ensure that the incentives and enthusiasm are directed effectively.”