My motion (below) was lodged at the full county council meeting on 12 December. It was then referred to cabinet, as is the process.

At last week’s cabinet – Wednesday 8 January – webcast here – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcasts – Devon County Council conservative leader, John Hart, confirmed that the cabinet supported the motion and placed it in the hands of environment portfolio holder, Cllr Roger Croad.

As I told the cabinet, this country is lagging a long way behind Europe on protecting our trees and planting new ones. And thanks to looser planning rules and the desire for economic growth at all costs, our woods have never been more under threat.

The State of Nature report published last spring, confirmed that many of our native species, such as the hedgehog, as well as bees, birds and insects are in dramatic decline due to climate change and loss of habitat.

Trees themselves are also facing one disease after another. Scientists believe that this could also be due to climate change damaging the ability of trees to fight off such diseases. Ash dieback is expected to decimate our woodlands, which is really sad.

Trees and woods are beautiful, they create a haven for humans and wildlife and there is something special and spiritual about being in woods, especially in the spring when the bluebells are in flower.

It is excellent news that the cabinet is supporting the motion. I now need to liaise with the Woodland Trust and Cllr Croad on how we can best work together to help create more wooded areas across Devon.

The motion is now referred back to full council for a vote, on Thursday 20 February.

It is as follows:

This council notes the many benefits that trees and woodland can bring communities, including:

– social and health benefits;
– reducing ground maintenance budgets;
– helping reduce the effects of climate change;
– improving water quality in rivers and streams;
– assisting with combating flooding; and
– supporting a wide range of wildlife

However, there is less than 10% tree cover in England compared to 44% in Europe as a whole, and ash die back disease and other factors threaten this low amount of tree cover.*

This council therefore agrees to ask its Cabinet Member with responsibility for the environment to explore opportunities for increased tree planting on Devon County Council owned land, and to give consideration to initiatives to encourage tree planting elsewhere in Devon.

* Forestry Commission and United Nations, Forest Resource Statistics.

Photograph:  Higher Metcombe in the spring.