‘Forest for Devon’ idea takes root amid hopes tens of thousands of trees could be planted

A ‘Forest for Devon’ that could see thousands of trees planted to help tackle climate change will be considered.

Cornwall Council recently revealed a plan to create a 20,000-acre forest as the flagship project in its carbon-neutral action plan.

The £30million plan would develop a mass woodland tree planting programme and, once fully developed, a Forest for Cornwall will cover around 20,000 acres – about two per cent of the county’s land mass.

Around 50,000 trees would be planted ‘in streets, in hedgerows and through the creation of new woodlands and forested areas’.

Bids are already being prepared by Cornwall Council for Government-supported national tree planting schemes.

Councillor Rob Hannaford asked full meeting of Devon County Council (DCC) on Thursday if a similar scheme could be considered and in progressed.

Cllr Hannaford, leader of the Labour Group on the authority, said such a scheme in Devon would further enhance the South West peninsula’s carbon neutral status and would be natural progression across the border.

In response, Cllr Rufus Gilbert, cabinet member for economy and skills, said that the idea was being referred to the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group and would be included and factored into DCC’s Climate Change Strategy.

He added: “A Net-Zero Task Force of specialists was appointed in September 2019 to develop a draft plan by summer 2020.

“The process will involve evidence gathering through a set of hearings, each focussed on an individual decarbonisation topic, and community involvement including the use of a citizens’ assembly.

“The various opportunities available for land use to absorb carbon, including tree planting, will be considered through this process.”

Cllr Hannaford said that he was pleased that the climate change action board would look into the feasibility of the ‘Forest for Devon’ idea.

Thursday’s full council meeting also saw the council agree to look into amending its declaration of a climate emergency to include an ecological emergency.

The council will also reconsider its date for becoming carbon neutral from 2050 to 2025 in light of the recent climate and ecological emergency protests.

The motions, put forward by Cllr Jacqi Hodgson, were referred to the cabinet for consideration, which will then bring back a recommendation to the next full council meeting.

Cllr Hodgson said that she was happy for the motions to be referred to the cabinet to give it more time for the implications of it to be considered.

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