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Protecting landscapes

Trees and woodland are vital components of our landscape. Sadly, much of our woodland has become fragmented over the years from increased pressures, and with the threat from tree pests and diseases now on the rise, it is critical to protect what is left.

Many pests and diseases are present in the UK. Ash dieback (previously known as Chalara dieback of ash) is currently the most prominent, threatening up to 130 million ash trees, but there are many others also impacting on our landscape. The loss of our woods and trees, particularly those outside of woodland, will affect vital ecosystems. Losing the links they provide between our woods could be particularly devastating, but you can help.

Planting to protect

By planting alternative native tree species with our Disease Recovery Packs you can help to create landscapes with greater genetic, species and structural diversity, making them more capable of bouncing back from threats in the future. Trees and woods have many functions in our landscape that we don’t want to lose, which is why we’ve put together the below list to show where is good to plant and why:

Field corners

Field corners

These are ideal places for small copses which help to make use of unproductive land. In locations of scarce hedgerow cover, planted field corners can offer welcome protection, and are vital habitats for insects and birds as well as supporting the growth of wildflowers. The trees can also be beneficial for land conditions – improving soil structure, reducing runoff and erosion and buffering existing trees or woodland. 

Hedgerows and single trees

These are vital habitat-connectors for wildlife, and losing them could have a severe impact on the ability of many species to move around our landscape. Hedgerows and trees are also important for preventing soil erosion and flooding, providing valuable shelter and supplying privacy and screening.

When planting, it is important to remember that new, young trees are not likely to establish well in dense hedges as they fight for nutrients. However, hedges with large gaps are great for planting, as young trees will easily grow here.

Roadsides

Roadsides

Losing roadside trees to pests and diseases could be very detrimental to our wider environment. They are important habitat connectors, provide a valuable buffer between busy highways and surrounding land, can help reduce carbon emissions and help to trap noise pollution. They can also reduce the impact of wind and water erosion affecting roads from neighbouring land, and can soften the landscape surrounding urban highways and development.

If planting these trees, you should always carefully consider any overhead or underground utilities such as power lines or pipes, and be sure to plant in areas where your trees can grow to full maturity without being a danger to the road or traffic.

Water

Water

Trees and woods provide valuable protection for watercourses and losing these could have huge impacts on the environment. These trees provide dappled shade which helps moderate water temperatures for aquatic wildlife, can help reduce bankside erosion and can bind and stabilise soil. They can also trap runoff and pollutants, helping to protect overall water quality.

If you’re interested in planting to protect our landscape from the impact of tree disease, you can find out more about our Disease Recovery Packs. For more guidance, you can also contact our expert Woodland Creation team by emailing plant@woodlandtrust.org.uk or calling 0330 333 5303.

Join our fight

As we continue in our fight to prevent the further spread of pests and diseases, we are keen to work with other individuals facing the same challenges we are on our estate.

We understand that the impact of tree disease could affect landowners and those concerned with land use very differently. You may have already suffered the loss of trees, hedgerows and woodland to pests and disease, be concerned about existing trees that could now be vulnerable, or be worried about any potential impact to your land and the wider landscape.

If so, we would like to work with you. With tailored advice and support and through close partnership working, we can help you to mitigate the effects of pests and diseases and demonstrate to others the measures you have taken to protect your land for the future.