Thousands of new trees will be planted across Plymouth and South Devon, after the area was chosen to become England’s 11th community forest.
The Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest will stretch from the heart of the city to the edge of the moor, encompassing 1,900 hectares of land to form a mosaic of different forest habitats.
Unlike traditional forests, community forests aren’t geographically restricted to one place. Instead, they are spread out across a mix of community woodland, private woodland, on street, urban woodland, wooded habitat corridors and hedgerows.
It is envisaged that by connecting the rich ecosystems and habitats of Dartmoor and the wider South Devon area and bringing them into the city we can improve our connection to, and enjoyment of, nature for future generations.
Delivering the community forest for future generations is a core part of the proposal in recognition of young people’s voices in recent climate emergency discussions and the recovery from the impact of COVID-19.
The opportunities that the community forest creates will ensure skills development and job creation that will be relevant to today and tomorrow’s young people, and generate a sustainable natural asset for future generations. Furthermore, the planning of the community forest fulfils an action on the Climate Emergency Action Plan, allowing the Council to play a leadership role by working with partners and the local community across the city to raise awareness and understanding of climate change.
The proposals have been drawn up by a broad initial partnership between Plymouth City Council, National Trust, Woodland Trust, South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council, the Forestry Commission, Forestry England, Devon Wildlife Trust, Plymouth Tree Partnership and Dartmoor National Park and is funded through Defra’s Nature for Climate fund.
Councillor Patrick Nicholson, Deputy Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be involved in such a brilliant and important project.
‘The new community forest will not only complement our commitment to tree planting and the continuing greening of our city, which is important post COVID-19, but ties in perfectly with our plans for education and skills training. I look forward to the delivery of this project and the community’s involvement.”
Councillor Neil Jory, Leader of West Devon Borough Council added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen the link between people and their local environment, for work and skills, but also much needed play and relaxation.”
With the forest funding now approved, the partnership will begin work with the next phase of the development.
This will involve appointing a project delivery team, consulting on and developing the forest plan and identifying sites for the first year’s planting.
If you are interested in finding out more please email PSDCF@plymouth.gov.uk.