Woodland Trust Regeneration: Culm Moor Woodland in Devon

Recreating woodlands in the Culm Moor Nature Reserve, UK shows how local actions can impact global targets to tackle biodiversity loss and remove carbon from the atmosphere. The project pays close attention to creating a resilient forest that will support a diversity of plant and animal life, while increasing local awareness of biodiversity.

Culm Moor Woodland Reserve

Culm Moor Nature Reserve are what Creating Tomorrow’s Forests are all about – using their expertise to create diverse, native, thriving woodland as a home for UK wildlife with benefits for people. In this case, a beautiful woodland is being developed on an unused dairy farm located within the North Devon Biosphere Reserve. The woodland will connect into existing woodland fragments to create a contiguous native broadleaved forest where the veteran trees will nurture the growing saplings. The habitat is perfect to carve a space for local birds, pollinators, mammals, lichen and moss communities.

Why this project?

An unused dairy-farm-turned woodland is a great way to invest in nature recovery right here in the UK. This allows investors supporting the project to be able to see the impact they are having for themselves, for example through site visits. Earthly is a staunch supporter of taking local actions for global impact and this project does exactly that!

Great for Earth

Creating Tomorrow’s Forests will plant a mix of native broadleaved trees that will grow among established hedgerows and veteran oak trees already present in the area. To add plant diversity, the project will also introduce fruit-bearing trees like spindle and crab apple which maximize pollen, nectar and fruit availability for wildlife. The species were chosen based on a careful evaluation of the native trees in the region and a baseline survey on the existing species present. The focus on native species allows the woodland to have the maximum positive impact on the local environment.

The woodland is being created using standard woodland planting densities of keystone species (species without whom the ecosystem will not survive), with infilling of shrub species such as blackthorn between rows and an understorey of native bulb planting. The bulbs will accelerate the establishment of ground flora and link in to existing bluebell and wild garlic patches nearby.

Higher biodiversity and increased carbon absorption has been recorded in diverse woodland ecosystems where a good ground plant root network has been established. Reconnecting the saplings to existing isolated veteran trees will allow the new trees to tap into the fungal network- whose role is critical for the proper functioning of a thriving ecosystem.

In addition to improving plant diversity, the project will provide habitats for amphibians and invertebrates and enrich the diverse lichen and moss community that grow on the tree trunks.

Once established, the woodland will also allow movements of wildlife through natural corridors, enabling a broader contiguous native forest in the Devon region.

Positive for People

Stable woodlands are resources for the local community- they improve local air quality and groundwater retention, slow down water runoff and regulate rain cycles. Reconnecting fragmented habitat increases biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, improving the provision of ecosystem services.

This natural reserve in Devon will ensure visitors have access to the sites so they can benefit from being surrounded by nature, which has been shown to improve mental and physical wellbeing. The project provides jobs for planters, tree nurseries and ecologists across the UK. The abundance of pollinators is expected to improve agricultural productivity in the surrounding farmlands, bringing income and prosperity.

One of the other aims of Creating Tomorrow’s Forests’ work is to help educate the wider public. The project provides opportunities for volunteers to take part in citizen science projects as we monitor biodiversity on the site. They also run a blog, interview series and special seminars, and they are developing new education opportunities with academics for children and young adults.

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