Replanting Knightshayes with 12,000 trees

Tree in the woodland in August at Acorn Bank Garden, Cumbria.

The woodland at Knightshayes, near Tiverton, is undergoing a programme of regeneration, with the ranger team replanting over 12,000 trees over the next three years.

Throughout the last century, the woodland has undergone numerous changes. Originally farmer’s fields before being planted with larch in the 1950’s, the estate’s popular Impey Walk fell victim to the tree disease Phytophthora ramorum in 2011 and, since then, has been a tangle of impenetrable bracken and bramble.

The replanting, costing over £30,000, will consist of almost entirely native broadleaf species, the perfect habitat for abundant British woodland wildlife. More than a dozen different species of tree and shrub have been chosen by the National Trust which, in time, will grow into a diverse, rich and resilient wood, as opposed to the single species of larch that was cleared four years ago.

Senior Ranger, Raef Johnson, explains: “Despite being loved by the local community, the composition of the woodland on the Impey Walk has never been encouraging to wildlife and we hope the replanting will change this.

“In addition, by using ancient woodland management techniques, we will be able to grow hazel, ash and sweet chestnut in cycles of 5-15 years and then coppice the timber to use as firewood, fencing and numerous traditional rural crafts.

“Our hope, longer term, is that the coppicing will be managed by willing residents of the local community in return for the wood. Though we know the project will be hard work, we are really excited by the prospect and believe it will be worth it.”

The ranger team will also be creating new paths through the woods, widening and improving the current paths and thinning remaining trees to reduce the likelihood of wind damage and encourage light to the woodland floor. This will allow the trees to grow larger and healthier and improve the ground flora.

Disruption to Knightshaye’s visitors will be kept to a minimum but the ranger team will be on hand to talk about what’s happening and answer any questions; or you can contact Senior Ranger, Raef Johnson, directly at: raef.johnson@nationaltrust.org.uk.

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