Ash dieback is likely to cause appalling damage to our woodlands because the ash is one of the most prolific woodland trees – but that’s not the only disease, there are many more, exacerbated by climate change. 

And there are other threats to trees and woods from development.

We have seen in West Hill alone, developers ruthlessly ringbark, then fell veteran oaks to make a quick buck. Of course, these will not be isolated instances.

And in other parts of the country, woodland is being ripped out for housing estates and quarrying.

Locally, a proposed quarry at Straitgate Farm on the edge of Ottery will put at risk ancient and irreplaceable woodland, part of which is believed to be rare wildwood – which may be thousands of years old.

See the Straitgate Action Group’s blog-post about it here – http://straitgateactiongroup.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/Cadhay-Bog-Cadhay-Wood-ancient-woodland-wild-orchids.html

Not only are trees beautiful, providing shade and oxygen, and even preventing flooding, but there is something spiritual about walking through woodland.

In West Hill there is a few acres of Woodland Trust owned wood, and it is just wonderful to amble through, to hear the birds singing, smell the earth, see the little flowers in the spring and gaze up at the green leafy canopy above.  Trees and woodlands are very special and must be protected – for our children and our children’s children.

As the Woodland Trust’s new tree champion for Devon, I will continue my work that I am already doing in my ward to protect trees, but I also want to find places to plant trees. The Woodland Trust has tree planting kits and can help out with this.

So, this is my first message to Devon people as tree champion – please consider whether any land near you, whether privately, or publicly owned, may be suitable for tree planting and if so, let me know, (as well as your own councillor, of course).

I look forward to hearing from you!

Here’s the piece in this week’s Herald…  http://www.devon24.co.uk/news/claire_has_the_wright_stuff_for_woodland_trust_1_3035145 

Here’s more information about how the Woodland Trust can help with tree planting – http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/

Photograph:  The stunning line of beeches in spring along Ash Hill Road, West Hill