More than 100,000 trees to be planted to boost Devon temperate rainforest

The National Trust project will cover 50 hectares of land. Credit: PA

More than 100,000 trees will be planted along a stretch of coastline in north Devon to improve habitats for endangered wildlife.

The National Trust project, which is working on the coast at Exmoor and Woolacombe and inland at the Arlington Estate, aims to create a wilder, wetter, and more woody landscape, as well as improve access to nature.

The planned habitat, known as a temperate rainforest, is one of the most endangered in the UK.

It once covered large areas of the western coast of Britain but has deteriorated due to air pollution, invasive species and diseases.

The consistently wet climate allows for a unique variety of plants and animals to thrive, including rare ferns and pine martens, and helps to tackle climate change.

The project will cover 50 hectares of land, with 50,000 trees to be planted at Arlington Court, 38,000 on Exmoor and 20,000 at Woolacombe and Hartland.

Further planting will follow in the coming years.

Among those planting trees at all sites will be community groups, including local primary schools.

John Deakin, head of trees and woodlands at the National Trust, said: “Temperate rainforests used to be expansive wooded habitats along the western seaboard of the UK, but now all that’s left are fragments, covering only 1% of Britain and limited to small patches in Devon, Cornwall, North and West Wales, Cumbria, the West of Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland.

“As a result, the rare specialist plants that depend on this habitat now desperately cling to the remaining fragments for survival, with some of the woodlands we care for in north Devon containing nearly the entire global population of some of these species, such as the Devon whitebeam.

"Without urgent action, these unique plants could soon be facing extinction."

The National Trust launched its Plant a Tree fund in 2020 and has since completed 51 projects and planted more than one million trees.