Over 50 Parish Councillors from Sedgemoor, Taunton and West Somerset districts attended the conference on 29th January 2020 at West Monkton Village Hall.  A packed programme of speakers and activities kept delegates engaged; Ben Thorne from the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) on the role of trees and hedges in flood mitigation, Alan Hall from the Taunton Country Park project on the green corridor being planted to lessen the environmental damage done by the massive increase in housing in Taunton.  Other contributions came from Plotgate Community Agriculture, Sedgemoor and Mendip Landscape Officers and Parish Councillors.

The Parish Tree Policy was distributed and discussed – hopefully the take up for this will be positive.  After a delicious lunch sourced from Somerset Local Food Direct, delegates walked to a nearby planting scheme.  Attention was drawn to a number of problems with the planting, not least the number of trees that had died.  Phil Stone led an informed discussion on why this had occurred with learning taken on the importance of preparation, planting and maintenance.

Back at the Village hall, the different supports available for planting schemes were outlined, both financial and practical.  Before leaving delegates were asked to think about what ‘actions’ they would take from today’s conference and we look forward to hearing how these have evolved.

Future Visits and Training

  • RTL ran a training for community tree planting project leaders in November 2019 and will repeat this training for the coming season of tree planting 2020-21
  • RTL ran an orchard restoration training earlier in January 2020 and is running a fruit tree grafting workshop on April 23rd 2020
  • RTL is planning a visit to Martin Crawford’s Forest Garden Demonstration sites in Dartington, Devon, this Spring
  • RTL is discussing possible training sessions on (a) mapping trees in your parish and (b) ash dieback – identification and actions

Details and opportunities to register will be posted on the website nearer the time.