The Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest is an ambitious new project that will see hundreds of new trees planted across the city.
It will stretch from the heart of the city to the edge of the moor, encompassing 1,900 hectares of land to form a mosaic of different forest habitats.
Unlike traditional forests, community forests aren’t geographically restricted to one place. Instead, they are a spread out across a mix of community woodland, private woodland, on street, urban woodland, wooded habitat corridors and hedgerows.
It is envisaged that by connecting the rich ecosystems and habitats of Dartmoor and the wider South Devon area and bringing them into the city we can improve our connection to, and enjoyment of nature for future generations.
Delivering the P&SD Community Forest for future generations is a core part of the proposal in recognition of young people’s voices in recent climate emergency discussions and the recovery from the impact of Covid.
The opportunities that the P&SD Community Forest creates will ensure skills development and job creation will be relevant to today and tomorrow’s young people and generate a sustainable natural asset for future generations.
Furthermore, the planning of the P&SD Community Forest fulfils an action on the Climate Emergency Action Plan, allowing the Council to play a leadership role by working with partners and the local community across the city to raise awareness and understanding around climate change.
The proposals have been drawn up by a broad initial partnership between Plymouth City Council, National Trust, Woodland Trust, South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council, the Forestry Commission, Forestry England, Devon Wildlife Trust, Plymouth Tree Partnership and Dartmoor National Park and is funded through the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs’ Nature for Climate fund.
What is a Community Forest?
Well it’s not like a normal forest that is one place and has lots of the same types of trees and is planted and then harvested for timber.
No, the Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest will stretch across different parts of the city and surrounding countryside. It will be a mix of community woodland, private woodland, on street trees, urban woodland, wooded habitat corridors and hedgerows.
But the key thing is that it will be coordinated so that we get a mix of species and ensure that we get the right types of tree in the right type of place.
And how will it benefit Plymouth?
It will benefit Plymouth both economically, environmentally and through the health and wellbeing of our community.
There will eventually be jobs. Lots of jobs and crucially, jobs for young people. The plan is for 353 jobs over the first ten years with plenty of apprenticeships across a broad range of roles.
Environmentally, the extra trees will increase capture carbon/Co2 in the Plymouth area by 83% from current levels once full established helping us in our fight to become carbon neutral by 2030.
Lastly, the health benefits of the new green spaces are estimated to equate to around £5.7 million per year. This is worked out from national health data and expected number of visits to the Forest each year.
The good news is that our work is being supported by the England Community Forest, Trees for Climate Programme, supported by Defra through the Nature for Climate Fund to plant the first 500 hectares in the first five years. We don’t know where this will be yet. That’s our next job.
Over the next few months, we’ll be running extensive consultation with residents and talking to landowners to see if they want to get involved.
Then we’ll start by advertising the first of those 353 jobs we were talking about.