Environmental Targets - Mendip Matters 13th Jan 2022

I believe many of us realise that we can’t leave it to others, we all have a part to play to improve our environment.

My parish council for example has encouraged tree planting and replacement for many years. All planning applications for tree felling in its conservation area receive a letter from the parish council to ask they replant a native tree. Local residents have started a tree nursery to provide replacements to the many dying Ash trees, and offer advice on appropriate species. The importance of trees cannot be under-estimated. Many experts believe they are key to tackling the effects of climate change, due to their extraordinary ability to take carbon out of the atmosphere.  

Our friends at Somerset Wildlife Trust are helping the District Council plant a variety of tree species, and to manage hedgerow and bush restoration across Mendip, all of which are critical for biodiversity. A mature oak tree can support over 280 species of insects!

One of our dominant tree species in Somerset is the Ash. The District Council and Mendip Hills AONB are working to combat the devastating impacts of ash die back. The disease is caused by a fungus which affects the tree’s ability to draw nutrients up into its upper branches. A notable symptom is bare, leafless branches sticking up at the top of an infected tree. This then spreads through the entire tree canopy. Take a look next time you’re out and about this Spring and you’ll soon see the scale of the problem this county is facing.

Flooding is another environmental hazard we can tackle, with some clever tree planting. The ‘Hills to Moors’ Somerset Rivers Authority project, and community group Reimagining the Levels are planting trees as part of an ongoing 'slow the flow' campaign, encouraging natural flood management.  

These important partners - Mendip Hills AONB, Somerset Wildlife Trust, and Reimagining the Levels – all follow the ‘right tree, right place’ principle. And between them, they will plant more than 7000 trees on behalf of the Council this year, to ensure we deliver on the tree planting pledges made in our Carbon Management Plan and our corporate priorities. This exciting, valuable work will be funded by the Council, through money set it has aside for the Queens Green Canopy.

We must work together if we’re to meet our environmental targets. Thankfully there are people in our communities who are willing to give their time, energy and expertise, to preserve and create these ‘green lungs’ that are so important for our environment, wildlife and wellbeing. Many small gestures add up to make one big difference.

Now is perfect tree-planting season. If you have an area of land in mind where you think trees could be planted, please get in touch to see how we can support you. Don’t forget to say what type of land it is (wooded, meadow, urban) and who you think owns it. Email me and I’ll ensure any requests are forwarded appropriately:  [email protected] / Facebook: @RosWyke. 

Written by Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of Mendip District Council

Please get in touch either on my Facebook page @Ros.Wyke or you can send me an email: [email protected].

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