Devon farmers planting trees to fight climate change

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A new trial in Devon is looking into how farmers can help fight climate change by planting more trees.

Seven farms in Devon are involved in the 12-year research project, blurring the divisions between woodland and livestock grazing areas.

It is hoped this design will improve life for birds, insects and other wildlife, while keeping farmland productive.

The trees will also provide animals with shelter from wind, rain and sun.

Farm and woodland manager Carolyn Richards says some of trees could grow to be 20ft in the next 20 years:

"On either side, there will be trees which are smaller, such as birch and alder, and then around here there will be willows, blackthorn, hawthorn, all of which the cattle will eat and get from that diverse nutrition that they don't get from grass.

"With all this diverse planting there should be a really good cosy place for cattle to hang out."

Credit: ITV West Country

Farmer Andy Gray has planted trees on his land at Copplestone.

He says it makes sense for farmers to help tackle climate change:

"As farmers we obviously own a large proportion of the surface area of the country and that's where the sunlight hits.

"The sunlight can be converted into carbon which will potentially be sequestered and kept in the soil by the trees and the grass and grass and trees, as a combination, we believe is a more effective way of capturing carbon than any other.

The scientific data gathered during this trial will prove how effective it can be and could lead to further projects in future.

Luke Dale-Harris from the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group says it will return the land to its original state and benefit both people and nature:

"Through to 1300-1400, this rolling, fluid wood-pasture landscape was Britain and it was wonderful and how it can increase productivity, increase animal welfare, at no cost to farmers, and only benefit to the environment and the animals, that's the idea."