Trees for Devon

People listening to a talk outside the biomass boiler house Forests, woodlands, hedges, and trees shape the character of the Devon countryside. Ours is the most wooded county in the South West and boasts the longest hedgerow network in the country. Woods and hedgerows are a key feature of our five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and two National Parks. The upland Oakwoods of Dartmoor and Exmoor are of international importance for their wildlife.

This woody resource is of huge social and economic value and provides benefits including timber and wood fuel, pollination, climate regulation, improved air and water quality and reduced flood risk. People have an innate connection to woodlands and trees and they are highly valued for their beauty, wildlife, heritage and cultural associations.

Our woody assets face numerous challenges including lack of management, invasive species, disease and damage from deer and squirrels. But there are solutions such as the increasing demand for wood fuel and the potential to add value to timber products locally, along with the growing recognition among decision-makers that access to woodlands provides mental and physical benefits.

Natural Devon is working to increase the area of woodland, and length of hedgerows which are sustainably managed and resilient. We also want more community groups involved in their local woods and a strong local supply chain for wood fuel and timber products, utilising smaller woodlands and hedges.



  • Devon’s woodlands and hedges are sustainably managed and rich in wildlife through being re-connected to the local economy and local communities.


Current work

The Woodland Trust is currently setting up a Trees for Devon Working Group which will produce a Trees Strategy for Devon.  For further information please contact Eleanor Lewis.

Right Place Right Tree – We will soon be producing guidance to support woodland creation across Devon



Current Devon wide Partnership Projects

The Devon Ash Dieback Resilience forum

Saving Devon’s Treescapes supports local communities across Devon to plant and nurture thousands of trees to replace those lost due to ash dieback.  .

Devon Hedge Group  a forum of organisations and individuals interested in working together to promote the appreciation and conservation of hedges found across the county.


Devon Woodland groups

CulmWoods Woodland CoOp -Members of the group will have access to woodfuel in exchange for work, pro rata, with all machinery operated by certificated members and contractors, all fire wood quality going to the membership

Neroche Woodlanders – is a social enterprise representing a collaborative partnership between local people, independent practitioners, and the Forestry Commission. From a modest beginning the project hopes to expand its provision of timber, firewood and processed timber products from Young Wood over the coming years. Find out more at the Neroche Woodlanders’ website.

Dartmoor Wood Fuel CoOp – was setup in 2009, the aim of the project is to encourage local boiler installations and woodland owners to collaborate which will enable us to take the co-operative forward in promoting bio-mass and the environmental benefit.

Axewoods CoOp – is well established and working in private woodland. Funded by Making It Local.

Links and projects (some have now ended)

Please send links to any other projects to  Apologies for any out of date links.

Review of wood stove air pollutants – Following concerns about air pollutants released from wood stoves being so damaging to human health as to be a major concern, Devon County Council commissioned the Centre for Energy and the Environment, Exeter University, to undertake a review in 2018

Devon Woodfuel meetings

  • 2015 – The Devon Hedge Group facilitated a workshop with partners to co-ordinate activity relating to producing woodfuel from small farm woodlands and hedges, ensuring that funding opportunities are not overlooked or missed. The notes from woodfuel workshop
  • 2014 – Partners were brought together in  to link-up woodfuel projects and funding bids that are already being developed in Devon, and to determine where support gaps exist in previous projects’ delivery. Notes from the woodfuel meeting are available to read back.

Developing the Timber Economy.  An outline funding bid for European funding to support the forestry sector developed by LNP Partners and the Forestry Task & Finish sub-group of the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Rural Special Interest Group with support from the Silvanus Trust.  Whilst the bid wasn’t successful the information collated may be useful for future bids.

Renewable Heat@Work – run by Devon County Council, RegenSW and the Forestry Commission during 2013, offered business engagement events and a Biomass Boiler Open Day which attracted businesses and residents to visit 30 boiler installations in Devon.

South West Bio Heat Programme – launched in 2007 with funding from the South West of England Regional Development Agency and the Forestry Commission. The programme included demand creation, biomass fuel supply and training and skills development all summarised in a South West Bio Heat report.

Working Our Woodlands – brought more private woodland in the Blackdown Hills and East Devon area into management. From Nov 2009-Oct 2011 the Silvanus Trust worked in partnership with the Blackdowns and East Devon Woodland Association to operate effectively in the area. The project continued as part of Beef, Butterflies and Trees.

Devon Ward Forester – was launched in spring 2010 by Devon County Council and the Forestry Commission. It brought clusters of woodland areas together to achieve economies of scale, access new markets and ensure supply for the growing woodfuel market. Over 3,800 hectares of woodland within Devon is part of the project.

Beef, Butterflies and Trees – provided locally-owned advice, training and support from January 2012 to December 2013 for land owners, managers and contractors involved with woodland, wet heaths and old pastures within the Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONB.

The Sustainable Energy Across the Common Space (SEACS) – project ran from 2011 – 2014. It established  the South West Devon Community Energy Partnership, the North Devon Biosphere Energy Partnership and a community energy group called 361 Energy active around Ilfracombe and Braunton. An exchange visit on wood fuel was arranged with project partners in Brittany who are interested in promoting wood fuel and have a long history of managing hedgerows and small woodland.  Learning from the SEACS partners’ experience of managing hedgerows, promoting domestic scale boilers, and using biomass boilers in public buildings has been shared. The project’s experience of enabling communities and schools to take control of their energy future were turned into an online toolkit

The Devon County Council Biomass Study was undertaken by the South West Energy Centre to identify lessons learnt from biomass support undertaken between 2012-2014, provide an overview of current support and interventions available, identify the main needs of business, produce a draft design for project(s) to support the biomass sector, and identify any other potential areas of support required.

The Biomass Energy Centre  – the UK government information centre for the use of biomass for energy in the UK.

Wood Heat Association A group of wood heat companies from the fuel supply chain and installer base have come together to establish a single trade body to represent this growing industry. The founding Directors include Sam Whatmore of Devon-based Forest Fuels.

Recent publications from the South Devon Woodfuel Hub include this Hedges for Heat factsheet. The aim of this factsheet is to stimulate more interest in biomass from hedges and small woodlands.


Will be moved to the Take Action pages

Recent publications from the South Devon Woodfuel Hub include this Hedges for Heat factsheet. The aim of this factsheet is to stimulate more interest in biomass from hedges and small woodlands.