Devon is a special place with so much to offer. Deep wooded gorges with rushing rivers cut through its hinterland, providing refuges to rare mosses and lichens and forming remnants of incredibly rare temperate rainforests. 

What makes Devon special?

Devon has a rich tapestry of natural landscapes and is home to two national parks with historic moors, rocky outcrops, carbon-capturing peatland and a patchwork of small fields divided by hedgebanks.

It also holds some of the last remaining fragments of England’s ancient temperate rainforests. Just like the Amazon rainforest, they are a unique and important habitat for wildlife. 

Trees woods and wildlife

Temperate rainforest

Also known as Atlantic or Celtic rainforest, this special habitat is incredibly rare. Its lush conditions are perfect for scarce plants, lichens and fungi, as well as a number of unusual animals.

Learn more about the UK's rainforest

Why is restoring Devon's woodlands important?

Devon has lower levels of woodland cover than the national average (11.8% compared to 13%), and many of Devon's woods are fragmented and under threat from climate change, pest and diseases and development pressures.

The limited connectivity between woods and trees puts pressure on wildlife, as they struggle to find habitats and food for survival.

In the past, many of our ancient woods were felled and replaced with a faster growing conifer ‘crop’ to provide timber following the First and Second World Wars. We need to restore these ancient woods so they can provide the optimum conditions for a diverse and thriving ecosystem.

What we're doing

The Woodland Trust is working with partners to create new woodland, protect our existing woods and trees and restore our precious ancient woodland across Devon’s landscape. Our vision is for a bigger, better, more joined-up landscape of woods, hedges and trees for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of people.

Our plans

  • Working with Plymouth Council and a range of partners to create the new Plymouth and South Devon's Community Forest. This project will encompass 1,900 hectares of land, from the heart of the city to the edge of Dartmoor with a mix of woodland, street trees, habitat corridors and hedgerows, and will increase carbon capture in Plymouth by 83%.
  • Working with farmers, foresters and other landowners to create new woodland and restore ancient woodland, driving nature recovery and increasing the level of biodiversity across the landscape.
  • Supporting research by the Innovative Farmers, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group and the Soil Association in measuring and evaluating the benefit of agroforestry techniques.
  • Working with NGOs, councils and government agencies to strategically plan for woods and trees across Devon, as a founding member of the Trees for Devon group (part of the Local Nature Partnership).
  • Supporting schools, community groups and landowners with a range of tree packs and planting guidance. 
  • Working with other organisations, councils and charities to provide trees and advice, including Devon Wildlife Trust’s Saving Devon's Treescapes project.
  • Supporting Devon County Council to plan and implement their tree strategy via our Emergency Tree Fund.
  • Supporting an initiative with Natural England and Devon Wildlife Trust to map ancient woodland across the county. 
  • Working together with the National Trust to identify and map ancient and veteran trees, thanks to funding from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.
  • Restoring ancient woodland and supporting landowners in planning their own restoration. Purchasing Fingle Woods and Ausewell Wood, in partnership with the National Trust, has enabled us to ensure that these precious ancient woodlands can be restored, providing an important refuge for wildlife. These ancient woods were planted with a conifer crop which we are now slowly removing to allow the native species to thrive once more. 

Visit Devon's wooded landscape

We care for a number of important woods across Devon, all free for everyone to explore and enjoy.

How you can get involved

Landowners

If you're a landowner in Devon interested in creating woodland on your land, you can apply for funding and advice through our MOREWoods scheme. 

Find out more and apply for funding

We're also keen to speak to landowners who already have woodland in Devon so we can identify if that woodland is ancient and offer advice on protecting and managing it. 

Email woodlandoutreachenglandsouthwest@woodlandtrust.org.uk for more information on how we can help.

More ways to make a difference