Trees, hedges and woodland

Trees, hedges and woodland are key features of Devon’s landscape, yet are subject to constant pressures due to both natural and human influences. They provide significant aesthetic, amenity and ecology benefits, and help to contribute to a healthier environment and healthy population.

To find out more about Devon’s trees, hedges and woodland, please select the relevant link from the menu below:

  • Why Devon's trees, hedges and woodland are important

    Trees, hedges and woodland are an integral part of Devon’s countryside and towns, and they provide multiple benefits to society, including filtering air pollution, reducing surface water runoff /contributing to sustainable drainage, providing wildlife habitats, improving water quality and the stabilising of soils and slopes.

    Devon’s hedges are particularly special. They are of great historical importance, define the county’s beautiful farmed landscapes, and support an immense amount of wildlife. The Devon Hedge Group website provides information on Devon’s hedges are why they are so important for biodiversity and landscape.

    Also of special value are Devon’s orchards, Ancient Woodland, veteran trees & ancient pasture woodland as they form part of its historic landscapes, including many historic parkland estates and deigned landscapes.  Download the Woodland Trust Ancient Tree Guide which explains what ancient & veteran trees are and why they are important. Also visit the Ancient Tree Inventory, which allows users to search, submit and update records for ancient/veteran trees.

    Trees, hedges and woodland are also key parts of our green infrastructure in and around cities and towns – visit the Devon County Council GI strategy

  • Guidance on establishing new trees and hedges

    In 2021, Devon Local Nature Partnership published the ‘Right Place Right Tree’ guidance. This should serve as a starting point to anyone looking to plant trees or increase tree cover. To access the guidance head over to Right Place Right Tree – Devon Local Nature Partnership (devonlnp.org.uk)

    For guidance on establishing new street trees, Devon County Council has recently produced a guidance document on ensuring the successful establishment of street trees, which provides a wealth of information on tree establishment and long term protection.

    The Trees and Design Action Group (TDAG) has also produced a number of useful documents on the establishment of trees within urban areas. One such document is the Tree Species Selection for Green Infrastructure: A Guide for Specifiers, which looks to improve species selection so that urban designers can provide our towns and cities with diverse and resilient palette of trees that are capable of thriving in challenging urban environments. Please also visit  Trees in Townscapes: A Guide for Decision Makers and Trees in Hard Landscapes: A Guide for Delivery for further information.

    The Forestry Commission has also produced a Tree Care Guide to help with the establishment and growth of planted trees. The Woodland Trust has also produced a wide range of helpful guidance in creating and establishing woodland.

    The Forestry Commission has also produced an Urban Tree Manual that provides advice on selecting and procuring the right tree for the right place in urban areas. It also highlights long term issues of the threats to existing trees from pests, disease and climate change, and describes the benefits to the environment and for the wellbeing that urban trees can provide.

    For guidance on establishing new hedges and hedgerow trees, please visit the Devon Hedge Group website.

  • Ash dieback and other threats to Devon's trees, hedges and woodland

    Devon’s trees, hedges and woodland are subject to constant pressures arising from both natural and human sources. These include urban expansion, the effects of climate change, management neglect, alterations to agricultural practices, and risks posed by pests and diseases introduced from other parts of the world.

    Future climate change could lead to a change in the frequency of extreme weather events, such as strong winds, winter storms and droughts. This will put significant stress on many of our native trees and hedge species that are not adapted to such extreme conditions.

    The threat from introduced pests and diseases to our trees, hedges and woodlands has never been greater. You can reduce the risk of further contamination and spreading of harmful insects, bacterial and fungal organisms by employing good biosecurity measures. The Forestry Commission provide guidance on biosecurity and preventing the introduction and spread of harmful organisms – pests, pathogens or invasive species. For general guidance, DEFRA’s publication Tree Management Plan (April 2014) gives further information.

    A current major threat to Devon’s trees, hedges and woodland is arising from the spread of ash dieback throughout the county. For more information, including a call for action now to combat this disease in Devon, please visit the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum website

  • Protection of Devon's trees, hedges and woodland

    There are a number of ways that trees are protected by law within the UK. These include Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), Conservation Areas, the Felling Licence system, Restrictive Covenants, and planning conditions within the planning system. It is important to find out from your local council whether any legal restrictions apply before you undertake any work on trees as you may be liable to prosecution if permission is not first obtained – The Arboricultural Association has produced a useful guide to Trees and the Law.

    Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are orders made by the local district planning authority to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity. Please visit your local district council website to find out the location of TPO’s in your area. For further information, please visit the government advice pages on Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas.

    Each of Devon’s city/district council TPO pages can be found below:

    Hedges are protected under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997 and removal of a hedgerow needs to be agreed with your local district planning authority first to make sure it’s legal to do so. For more information on the Hedgerow Regulations and your role and responsibilities, please visit the above link. More information about protection can again be found on the Devon Hedge Group website.

    Trees, hedges and woodland can also be protected through the development and use of best practice guidelines such as the British Standard 8545:2014 (Trees: from nursery to independence in the landscape), British Standard 5837:2012 (Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction) and other useful guidance published by The Trees and Design Action Group.

  • Devon County Council's roles and responsibilities

    Devon County Council, as the highway authority, recognises that trees can pose threats to health and safety – particularly along highways in where they are in close proximity to buildings. In order to manage this health and safety risk, trees experts regularly inspect trees on Devon County Council land.

    Furthermore, many hedges and trees grow on the edge of the highway and mark its boundary with private property. In these cases, the adjacent landowner or occupier is responsible for maintaining them. To find out more about the maintenance of roadside hedgerows, please visit the Devon County Council hedge maintenance webpages.

    To find out advice on dead/dangerous trees, and information on Devon County Council’s policy and guidance towards trees, please visit the Devon County Council tree maintenance webpages.

    Devon County Council also plays an important role within its partnership working, such as with the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum, the Devon Local Nature Partnership, the Devon Hedge Group and inputting into AONB and National Park Management Plans.

  • Current projects and grant schemes

    Devon County Council and its partners are involved in a number of projects across the county which are looking at tree and woodland planting.

    One such project is the ‘Woods 4 Water’ project within the North Devon Biosphere, a project supporting landowners in the planting of woodland to improve water quality and reduce flooding.

    Saving Devon’s Treescapes aims to provide hope and action in the face of the alarming changes that are already affecting Devon’s precious treescapes. This partnership project is led by Devon Wildlife Trust and will support local communities across the county to plant and nurture thousands of replacement trees.

    The Emergency Tree Fund is a brand new scheme funded by the Woodland Trust. Through this grant, Devon County Council have been awarded almost £300k to spend on tree planting across Devon. Through this funding, Devon County Council are looking to work with district, parish and town councils in order to support tree planting or woodland creation.

    Devon County Council, for the fourth year running, are offering a free tree pack scheme to combat the loss of ash trees through ash dieback. This year, 100 free tree packs are being offered to landowners across Devon (November 2022 – March 2023). These trees can also commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and will support the Queen’s Green Canopy.

    The Woodland Trust also offer support for large scale funding through MOREwoods; this funding is designed to help create new habitat for wildlife across the UK.

    DEFRA are offering funding to farmers and land managers in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), National Parks and the Broads through The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme.

    Other grants available to landowners for woodland planting include the England Woodland Creation Offer, the Hedgerows and Boundaries Grant Scheme and Countryside Stewardship.

    There are also schemes targeted towards communities such as the Woodland Trust Free Trees for Schools and Communities and the Tree Council’s grants for planting. The International Tree Foundation is now accepting applications for grants of up to £6000 towards community tree planting projects in the UK.

  • Devon Hedge Group

    For information and advice on Devon’s wonderful hedges, and how to manage them, please visit the Devon Hedge Group website.

  • How many trees does Devon County Council plant?

    Devon County Council does not have a single, co-ordinated programme for tree planting.

    Instead, different parts of the authority get involved in tree planting for a variety of reasons including:

    • Supporting nature recovery, landscape enhancement and amenity
    • Countering the effects of tree disease, specifically ash dieback
    • Addressing climate change, particularly by sequestering carbon through the growth of trees
    • Offsetting and ameliorating the unavoidable impacts of new development and infrastructure schemes, including the achievement of ‘biodiversity net gain’.

    Some tree planting is undertaken directly by the County Council on land that its owns or controls, for example, in its Country Parks, on its farms estate, or on the highway network.

    Far more planting is undertaken on land owned or controlled by others, but facilitated by the County Council through grant schemes, free tree initiatives or through its funding of, or involvement in, projects led by others.  A selection of these is described in the tab above ‘Current projects and grant schemes’.


    Since 2016, Devon County Council has funded the planting of over 18,000 trees. See below an infographic which highlights the basic areas.

    A3 DCC Trees 2016-2022

    Given this variety of approaches, there is no way of properly recording all of the trees planted by or on behalf of Devon County Council. However, provided below are two tables which list:

    1. Tree planting supported / funded by DCC on land owned or controlled by others.
    2. Tree planting undertaken by DCC on land in its ownership / control, excluding any planting that is undertaken linked to new development or infrastructure schemes (the details of which are available through relevant planning applications)

    Table 1.
    Tree Planting Supported / Funded by DCC on Land Owned by Others
    YEAR MONTH LOCATION WHIPS STANDARDS SPECIES PURPOSE
    2022 Feb./March Jawbones, Dartmouth, TQ6 400 Mixed broadleaves Queen’s Green Canopy event plus 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March The Spinney, Woodlands, Ivybridge, PL21 9TU 100 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Blachford Road, Ivybridge PL21 0AD 500 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Ivybridge Cemetery, Woodland Road, Ivybridge 250 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Greenway, Crediton 20 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Avranches, Crediton 30 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Lord’s Meadow (field eastern end), Crediton 100 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Lord’s Meadow (western park), Crediton 50 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Barnfield, Crediton 15 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Starkey Close, Tidcombe Walk, Tiverton 100 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Graters Copse, Tiverton 50 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Land east of Heathcoat Way, Paradise, Tiverton 50 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Crow Bridge, near Shortlands Road, Cullompton 200 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Filham Park, Ivybridge 600 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Victoria Park, Ivybrige 500 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March MacAndrews Field, Ivybridge 300 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March St Peters Way, Ivybridge 50 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Holman Way, Ivybridge 50 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Wembury Primary School, Knighton Road 600 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Public Recreation Field, Thomas Down 225 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Wembury Community Orchard 275 Native hedge shrubs 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2022 Feb./March Wembury Recreation Ground, Barton Close 250 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2021 Dec. Follaton Arboretum, Totnes                   200 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement, carbon and wildlife benefit *
    2021 Dec. 70 privately owned sites around Devon 3,150 Oak, Birch & Hazel 3/2/1 ADB & Queen’s Green Canopy planting Devon Free Tree Packs *
    2021 Jan./Feb. 40 privately owned sites around Devon                1,800 Oak, Birch & Rowan 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement planting through Devon Free Tree Packs
    2020 Oct. Westpoint, nr. Exeter                     26 Orchard apple varieties New orchard planting arranged by DCC to support launch of Saving Devon’s Treescapes
    2020  Feb.  40 privately owned sites around Devon                1,800  Mixed broadleaves  3/2/1 ash dieback replacement planting through Devon Free Tree Packs
    2020  Feb.  31 sites around Devon owned by parish councils                     31  Oak, rowan, small-leaved lime, Cherry dun ‘mazzard’, wild cherry, hornbeam, beech  3/2/1/ ash dieback commemorative landmark tree planting (size 100-180cm)
    2019 March Farm Nr. Hemyock                1,350 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 ash dieback replacement planting / wildlife benefit – tree planting and new hedge
    2018 No records available
    2017 No records available
    2016 No records available
    Total =              13,046                     26

    Notes:

    1. These figures exclude DCC’s most significant support for tree planting through the ‘Saving Devon’s Treescapes Project, which for £50,000 / year was provided in 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22. The ‘Delivery Phase’ of this lottery assisted project aims to plant 250,000 trees,at a large number of publicly and privately owned sites across Devon, particularly in 5 ‘focus areas’.

    2. In relation to line 6 (Westpoint), all 26 orchard trees were purchased in October, but only 6 planted-out immediately; the remaining 20 will be planted in January 2021

    3. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are planting scheme which form part of the DCC Emergency Tree Fund initiative. Some of this planting has been arranged directly by DCC but in many cases it has been done through grant agreements with the relevant District Councils.

    Version 2 – March 2022


    Table 2.
    Tree Planting Undertaken by Devon County Council
    YEAR MONTH LOCATION WHIPS STANDARDS SPECIES PURPOSE
    2022 March Middle Winsham Farm, Nr. Braunton*                   325 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 Ash dieback replacement /  Carbon sequestration / Wildlife benefit *
    2021 Dec. Grand Western Canal Country Park & LNR* 50 Mixed broadleaves Celebration of 50th Anninversary of the Country Park
    2021 Nov. County Hall, Exeter 2 Oak & Birch Queen’s Green Canopy – Planting to Celebrate Platinum Jubilee
    2020 Not known Grand Western Canal Country Park & LNR                     55 5 Mixed broadleaves Gapping-up of hedges alongside canal / Amenity trees
    2019 Dec. Stover Country Park & LNR                2,000 Mixed broadleaves Conservation management – planting around new wetland management system
    2019 Dec. Lower Chitterly Farm, Silverton                   200 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 Ash dieback replacement /  Carbon sequestration / Wildlife benefit
    2019 Nov. County Hall, Exeter 9 Mixed broadleaves 3/2/1 Ash dieback replacement /  Carbon sequestration / Amenity benefit
    2019 Jan. / Feb. Stover Country Park & LNR                1,200 Mixed broadleaves Conservation management – restocking of felled conifer block with broadleaves.
    2019 Not known Grand Western Canal Country Park & LNR                     35 1 Mixed broadleaves Gapping-up of hedges alongside canal / Amenity tree
    2018 Not known Grand Western Canal Country Park & LNR                   600 Mixed broadleaves New length of hedge close to canal
    2017 Not known Grand Western Canal Country Park & LNR                   225 3 Mixed broadleaves Gapping-up of hedges alongside canal / Amenity trees
    2016 Not known Grand Western Canal Country Park & LNR                   275 4 Mixed broadleaves Gapping-up of hedges alongside canal / Amenity trees
    TOTAL =                4,915 74

    Notes:

    Sites with an asterisk (*) show where planting was undertaken as part of DCC’s Emergency Tree Fund initiative.

    Version 2 – March 2022