Water recycling boost for tree nursery

Water recycling boost for tree nursery

Devon Wildlife Trust is set to introduce an innovative rainwater harvesting system at its community tree nursery in North Devon thanks to the support of South West Water.
Portrait of woman holding sapling. Black and white.

A portrait of Devon Wildlife Trust's Rosie Cotgreave, taken at Meeth tree nursery. One of the images taken by Robert Darch.

Devon Wildlife Trust plans to fit the system at the nursery which is situated at its Meeth Quarry nature reserve, near Hatherleigh. The nursery forms a key part of the charity’s Saving Devon Treescapes project, which works with communities across the county to plant native species trees to help reverse severe recent losses to the deadly tree-disease, Ash Dieback.

Last year the project was able to provide 10,000 free saplings to communities, schools and landowners to replace those lost to the disease. Now the tree nursery which supplies many of these trees is set to become self-sufficient in water thanks to £4,000 funding from South West Water, through its Water-Saving Community Fund.

The funding is allowing Devon Wildlife Trust to install a large rainwater storage tank which will harvest water whenever the notoriously fickle North Devon weather decides to deliver a soaking. The tank will hold an impressive 10,000 litres of rainwater which the charity has calculated will be enough to keep its tree saplings in perfect condition across the driest six months of each year.

The wildlife charity estimates that this will result in an annual saving of 130,000 litres of mains water – equivalent to 1,625 full bathtubs – helping the environment and reducing costs.  

The work will be completed with the installation of a new interpretation panel telling visitors about the tree nursery’s work, how the rainwater harvesting functions, and the importance of reducing water use.

Rosie Cotgreave leads Devon Wildlife Trust’s Saving Devon Treescapes project. Rosie said:

“We’re really grateful to South West Water for this funding, which will allow us to harvest rainwater. By watering our tree saplings with recycled water collected in the wetter months, we’re able to be more sustainable when the sun comes out. Our tree nursery is run by local volunteers and this funding will help us provide thousands more free trees to local communities.”

Rob Scarrott, South West Water’s Head of Water Resources and Planning, said:

“We are thrilled to be supporting Devon Wildlife Trust in this important project. Drinking water is a vital part of our everyday lives and every year the population grows and demand for tap water increases. Many think it rains all the time and don’t realise that tap water is a precious and limited resource.”

The new rainwater harvesting system is just one among a series of measures being deployed by Devon Wildlife Trust to minimise the environmental impact of its community tree nursery. Others include the exclusive use of peat-free compost, a decision which support’s the charity’s wider campaigning work aimed at getting people to garden more sustainably.

Click here for more details of the work of Saving Devon’s Treescapes and its free tree scheme.