Trees, hedges and woodland

Trees, hedges and woodland are key features of Devon’s landscape, yet are subject to constant pressures due to both natural and human influences. They provide significant aesthetic, amenity and ecology benefits, and help to contribute to a healthier environment and healthy population.

To find out more about Devon’s trees, hedges and woodland, please select the relevant link from the menu below:

  • Why Devon's trees, hedges and woodland are important

    Trees, hedges and woodland are an integral part of Devon’s countryside and towns, and they provide multiple benefits to society, including filtering air pollution, reducing surface water runoff /contributing to sustainable drainage, providing wildlife habitats, improving water quality and the stabilising of soils and slopes.

    Devon’s hedges are particularly special. They are of great historical importance, define the county’s beautiful farmed landscapes, and support an immense amount of wildlife.

    Also of special value are Devon’s orchards, Ancient Woodland, veteran trees & ancient pasture woodland as they form part of its historic landscapes, including many historic parkland estates and deigned landscapes.  Download the Woodland Trust Ancient Tree Guide which explains what ancient & veteran trees are and why they are important. Also visit the Ancient Tree Inventory, which allows users to search, submit and update records for ancient/veteran trees.

    Trees, hedges and woodland are also key parts of our green infrastructure in and around cities and towns – visit the Devon County Council GI strategy

  • Guidance on establishing new trees and hedges

    For guidance on establishing new trees, Devon County Council has recently produced a guidance document on ensuring the successful establishment of street trees, which provides a wealth of information on tree establishment and long term protection.

    The Trees and Design Action Group (TDAG) has also produced a number of useful documents on the establishment of trees within urban areas. One such document is the Tree Species Selection for Green Infrastructure: A Guide for Specifiers, which looks to improve species selection so that urban designers can provide our towns and cities with diverse and resilient palette of trees that are capable of thriving in challenging urban environments. Please also visit  Trees in Townscapes: A Guide for Decision Makers and Trees in Hard Landscapes: A Guide for Delivery for further information.

    The Forestry Commission has also produced a Tree Care Guide to help with the establishment and growth of planted trees. The Woodland Trust has also produced a wide range of helpful guidance in creating and establishing woodland.

    For guidance on establishing new hedges, see the Devon Hedge Group website.

  • Ash dieback and other threats to Devon's trees, hedges and woodland

    Common pressures on Devon’s trees, hedges and woodland  include the influence of the urban fringe and sprawling urban centres, the effects of climate change, alterations to agricultural practices and the forces for change which relate to biosecurity and the risk of disease on indigenous tree species that make a major contribution to our landscape, for example Ash Dieback and Sudden Oak Death.

    Future climate change could lead to the change in frequency of extreme weather events, such as strong winds, winter storms and droughts. All of these natural events can bring significant losses to our trees, hedges and woodland.

    The threat from introduced pests and diseases to our trees, hedges and woodlands has never been greater. You can reduce the risk of further contamination and spreading of harmful insects, bacterial and fungal organisms by employing good biosecurity measures. The Forestry Commission provide guidance on biosecurity and preventing the introduction and spread of harmful organisms – pests, pathogens or invasive species. For general guidance, DEFRA’s publication Tree Management Plan (April 2014) give further information.

    For information of Ash dieback in Devon, please visit the following link.

  • Protection of Devon's trees, hedges and woodland

    There are a number of ways that trees are protected by law within the UK. These include Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), Conservation Areas, the Felling Licence system, Restrictive Covenants, and planning conditions within the planning system. It is important to find out from your local council whether any legal restrictions apply before you undertake any work on trees as you may be liable to prosecution if permission is not first obtained – The Arboricultural Association has produced a useful guide to Trees and the Law.

    Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are orders made by the local district planning authority to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity. Please visit your local district council website to find out the location of TPO’s in your area. For further information, please visit the government advice pages on Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas.

    Each of Devon’s city/district council TPO pages can be found below:

    Hedges are protected under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 and removal of a hedgerow needs to be agreed with your local district planning authority first to make sure it’s legal to do so. For more information on the Hedgerow Regulations and your role and responsibilities, please visit this link.

    Trees, hedges and woodland can also be protected through the development and use of best practice guidelines such as the British Standard 8545:2014 and other useful guidance published by The Trees and Design Action Group.

  • Devon County Council's roles and responsibilities

    Devon County Council, as the highway authority, recognises that trees can pose threats to health and safety – particularly along highways in where they are in close proximity to buildings. In order to manage this health and safety risk, trees experts regularly inspect trees on Devon County Council land.

    To find out advice on dead/dangerous trees, and information on Devon County Council’s policy and guidance towards trees, please visit the Devon County Council tree maintenance webpages.

    Devon County Council also plays an important role within its in partnership working, such as with the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum, the Devon Local Nature Partnership, the Devon Hedge Group and inputting into AONB and National Park Management Plans.

  • Current projects and grant schemes

    Devon County Council and its partners are involved in a number of projects across the county which is looking at tree and woodland planting. One such project is the ‘Woods 4 Water’ project within the North Devon Biosphere, a project supporting landowners in the planting of woodland to improve water quality and reduce flooding.

    There are a number of grants available to landowners for woodland planting including the Forestry Commissions English Woodland Grant Scheme and Countryside Stewardship.

  • Devon Hedge Group

    For information and advice on Devon’s wonderful hedges, and how to manage them, please visit the Devon Hedge Group website.