Pupils pioneer tree planting

We've been busy helping children at an Exeter primary school to plant hundreds of trees to help their local environment.
Person holding bare root tree whip

Photo: Peter Cairns/2020VISION

Pupils aged three to 11 years, at the 400-strong Willowbrook School, have recently begun the task of planting 360 trees in their own school grounds. The trees, which are all native-species saplings, include oaks, hazels, hawthorns, blackthorns and crab apples. Once planted, the trees will benefit wildlife, as well as enriching the local environment for children, teachers and local people.

The trees have been supplied free of charge by the conservation charity Devon Wildlife Trust through its Saving Devon Treescapes project. The project helps communities replace trees which have been lost to the devastating fungal disease, ash dieback.

Willowbrook School has lost several trees in recent years due to ash dieback. The new trees are being planted to replace these and to complete a much-loved hedgerow at the school. Staff from Devon Wildlife Trust have been on hand at several planting sessions to help pupils.

Miss Georgia Scott, Year One teacher at Willowbrook School said:

“Planting the trees in school has been a huge collective effort. Every child has had the opportunity to plant a tree, and we hope that this encourages them to take responsibility and care for our school environment. Taking part in a project like this has taught our children not only the importance of trees themselves, but also what we can achieve when we work together as a whole school community in this way."

This will have such a positive impact on wildlife in the area
Emily Bacon
Devon Wildlife Trust
Children running

Photo credit, Jo Damsell

Emily Bacon, from Devon Wildlife Trust’s education team, has led the planting. Emily said:

“This opportunity to plant trees has given the children first-hand experience in learning how trees grow, learning how important they and how everyone can make a difference to protect our environment.

It’s been great to work with Willowbrook School to enhance their hedgerows after they were impacted due to ash dieback. This will have such a positive impact on wildlife in the area and will help to make our treescapes healthy and resilient for years to come.”

The Saving Devon Treescapes project is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, One Tree Planted and Tesco Bags of Help. The project operates across Devon and has worked with local communities to plant more than 10,000 native trees in the past 12 months.