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100 Years of Forestry

Posted on February 12, 2019

The history and heritage of our trees here in the UK is absolutely fascinating and one of our favourite subjects here at Teign Trees.

Devon has some incredible examples of veteran trees from the stunning Yew Tree in the Gardens at Dartington Hall believed to be between 1500 and 2000 years old to the 1000 year old Meavy Oak in Yelverton near Plymouth; which was recently on the shortlist for England's Tree of the Year run by the Woodland Trust. These ancient trees are well known and well protected but there are other less known but equally interesting examples of our natural history being cared for by a host of different charities and environmental groups.

One of the organisations we work with most frequently is The Forestry Commission the Government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woodlands and increasing their value to society and the environment.

Recently our Business Development Manager Jamie Beaulah was invited to visit Eggesford Forest in Devon to meet with the Forestry Commission team there and he got the chance to visit the beautiful Douglas Fir pictured above, which is understood to be one of the largest in the UK.

It is believed to be have been planted by the Earl of Portsmouth in Eggesford House's Pinetum (a plantation of pine trees or other conifers planted for scientific or ornamental purposes) from the first seeds sent back to England in 1827 by the Scottish Botanist David Douglas who lends his name to that particular species of conifer. The heavy low limbs suggest the site was quite exposed when the tree was young, but now it is thoroughly sheltered by Forestry Commission plantings which are now around 51 metres.

It’s just about possible to get a tape measure through the low limbs to obtain a fairly accurate measurement. In May 2013 the girth, measured at about 1.2 metres above the ground, was a staggering 7.8 metres. It even makes our man mountain Sam look small!

This year the Forestry Commission is celebrating 100 years of Forestry and are planning events all over the country to celebrate. Check out their website here to find an event in your area.

Here are a few notable dates in the history of the Forestry Commission, taken from their website:

September 1919 The Forestry Act is introduced to address severe timber shortages following First World War and increase British woodland cover which was at an all time low. The Act establishes the Forestry Commission to create state owned woods and forests, and promote and develop forestry.

December 1919, Forestry Commission plants the first trees at Eggesford Forest in Devon. They were planted by Lord Clinton and were a combination of Birch and Larch.

1926, Planting of Europe's Largest Man-Made Forest begins in Northumberland.

1949, Census of Woodland carried out: A two year census of woodlands in Britain concludes. Woodland cover totals 3.64 million acres, equating to 6.5% of British land cover.

1951, Forestry Act Introduces Felling Licence: The 1951 Forestry Act bans the felling of trees without a license. This had a significant impact on the work of the Commission whose responsibility it becomes to monitor these practices.

1967, The 1967 Forestry Act bring together all Acts from 1919 to 1963 to govern British forestry. The Forestry Commissioner's responsibilities and powers today are mainly derived from this Act.

1975, Dutch Elm Disease, A survey reveals that 30% of the elm population in southern & central England is dead or dying. Despite intensive research in the years that followed, no cure was found.

1976, Fiona Fenton becomes the organisation's First Female Forester.

2018, The Forestry Commission is the largest single provider of outdoor recreation in England. They look after 250,000 hectares and offer 3,000km of waymarked walks and mountain biking trails, Go Ape sites etc etc. The forests receive over 226 million visits each year. England's forest cover has doubled over the last century and forestry contributes to £339 million per year to the economy.

We here at Teign Trees & Landscapes are very proud to work with the Forestry Commission and support the work they do in keeping Woodlands and Forests healthy and protected for future generations.

Photo credit to Forestry Commission.