Green Recovery at Killerton

As the Government makes plans to repair the country from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, we're calling for a recovery that ensures everyone can enjoy nature.

Our recovery legacy should help everyone to enjoy the nature-rich green spaces on their doorstep and access local heritage and the shared cultural spaces that help bring communities together. In response to this, the Government has launched the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. In November we found out we were successful in two bids; 'Historic Landscapes' and 'Ancient Woodland and Trees' led by the Woodland Trust.

What is the Green Recovery Challenge Fund?

The Defra Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a short-term, competitive fund to kickstart the process of nature recovery, start to address the climate crisis, and help create and retain thousands of green jobs. The £40 million fund has been developed by Defra and its arm’s-length bodies, including Natural England, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency and others. The National Lottery Heritage Fund is distributing and monitoring this government money, to support projects that are ready to deliver and focus on nature restoration, nature-based solutions and connecting people with nature.

The 'Historic Landscapes' programme has been awarded £3.85 million by Defra as part of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The funding will kickstart a programme of work, worth over £4.7 million, to enhance nature and start to combat the effects of climate change in five of the most significant historic landscapes in our care.

The fund is also supporting delivery of the 'Ancient Woodlands and Trees' programme. This £4.6 million, 15 month programme of activity will make a tangible difference to the condition of ancient woodlands and ancient and veteran trees. The Woodland Trust and the National Trust are working in partnership to deliver the programme, with the Woodland Trust acting as the lead partner.Along with Buckland Abbey, Knightshayes and Plymbridge Woods; Killerton has been given funding to help them work towards a Green Recovery.


Making Killerton more resilient to climate change

Set in 6,400 acres of Devon countryside, the Killerton estate is an important wildlife haven. But its riverbanks, woodlands, parkland and farmland are threatened by climate change, which is bringing droughts, storms, heatwaves and heavy rainfall. This is why the National Trust is delivering nine projects across the estate to create new wildlife habitats, prevent flooding and store carbon and water.

The River Culm on the Killerton Estate

Killerton - Tackling Climate Change

This winter, the team at Killerton will plant and establish 70,000 trees and create more hedgerows. A further 600 trees will be planted outside of woodlands to create the ancient trees of the future. The National Trust will also be restoring the flood plain next to the River Culm, which runs through the estate. This will involve creating wildlife-rich wetland habitats and increasing shade in some areas while letting more light into places where animals feed and fish spawn. With support from DEFRA’s Green Recovery Challenge fund and HSBC UK, we’re taking collective action to mitigate and adapt to the threats of climate change and give Killerton a brighter, more sustainable future. Watch the video below to find out more:

Killerton's work towards a green recovery


Through the 'Historic Landscapes' programme, Killerton is set to benefit from almost £800,000 of funding. Work will involve planting trees and hedgerows in suitable areas around the estate and increasing agroforestry to support more sustainable farming. We'll also be delivering a floodplain restoration pilot along the River Culm to provide a better habitat for wildlife and people to enjoy. We'll be providing a range of opportunities to engage people with nature and the health and wellbeing benefits that brings.

As part of the 'Ancient Woodlands and Trees' programme, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust are working in partnership to restore and manage ancient trees and woodlands across the Killerton estate, including thinning and removal of invasive and non-native species to increase light levels and support natural regeneration of these precious habitats.

Both programmes will benefit the local economy by creating jobs and increasing capability in the sector providing a lasting legacy for the programme.


What will happen?

1. Restoring floodplain on the River Culm

We have partnered with Westcountry Rivers Trust to start the process of nature restoration in the floodplain from Ellerhayes Bridge to Columbjohn.

A selection of speakers gathered in April to present the 50 year vision and spoke about the plans to deliver the first phase of works. Watch the recording of the Webinar here.

2. Creating new woods

Eighteen hectares of woodland will be created across the estate, providing more stepping stones for nature to move across the landscape.

3. Wood pasture 

We will work with graziers to create 40 hectares of wildlife-rich wood pasture.

4. Agroforestry 

We will establish partnerships with growers and create five hectares of agroforestry, improving soil health through nature friendly farming.

5. Replanting lost hedges on farms 

Working in partnership with the SW Farm and Wildlife Advisory Group, we will plant 2 km of lost hedges across the estate and lay 1.5 km more, ensuring a hedge network bursting with life.

6. Planting open grown trees of the future

Where suitable we will plant 400 open grown trees into the landscape.

7. Restoring ancient woodland and protecting ancient trees 

We have partnered with the Woodland Trust to restore precious ancient woodland across the estate. We will also work to protect 60 ancient trees by giving them more space to thrive.


Work has begun

Willow planting by the River Culm - January 2022

The Ranger Team have braved the worst of the weather to plant 3000 willow trees by the River Culm. Half of the trees are Goats Willow (salix caprea) and the other half grey willow (salix cinerea).

Woodland mamangement in Park Wood completed - December 2021

It's been a mamouth task but at last the work is complete. The trees are visably thinned and already the light is flooding the woodland floor. This task was more than 30 years overdue so the result now looks rather striking, once nature can take hold again, new native plants and wildlife will be able to thrive.

Planting on the River Culm Floodplains - November 2021

The Ranger Team have been giving nature a hand and have been busy planting hundreds of plug plants. They will add some variety and alernative species to the new wetland scrapes that have been dug by the River Culm. They create very obvious in-field, wet features that are very attractive for all kinds of wildlife.

We planted over 600 of these little gems which prefer wet, boggy and marginal wet land. It's hoped that they will take root and add some diversity and colour to the area in coming years.

Small plug plants to be planted by the River Culm at Killerton
Small plug plants to be planted by the River Culm at Killerton
Small plug plants to be planted by the River Culm at Killerton


Woodland management at Park Wood - October 2021 - onwards

Work is ongoing in Park Wood as forestry workers are thining the non-native conifers in the area. Removing conifers and thinning the trees allows more light into the woodland. The woods will be able to breathe and gives the remaining trees space to grow and be healthy. With the woodland floor being reopened to sunlight, a more diverse range of plants and new trees will be able to grow, helping wildlife to thrive. 

The River Culm Floodplains - September 2021

By the River Culm work has started and there will be changes to the banks where we create pond-like pools (called scrapes). Work is in progress to create these scrapes. This is to create open water, wet woodland, and scrubby areas. This mosaic of habitat creates more space for nature and will help wildlife bounce back. We look forward to seeing the area progress.


Paradise Copse and White Down Copse - August 2021

The forestry team have been working in Paradise Copse and White Down Copse - ancient woodlands on the Killerton estate. The pathway has been cleared and upgraded with a stone track, making it easier to walk on and to enable the team to manage the woodland.

Some non-native Japanese larch trees that had reached their optimum age, have been felled to make room for 3300 new native broadleaf trees (a mix of oaks, beech and cherries and more). They will will be planted in November by our forestry volunteers. The new trees will allow more carbon to be stored, and help the area adapt to changes in the climate.


Clearing invasive non-native rhododendron and laurel - May 2021

Unfortunately, although they are both attractive plants, rhododendron and cherry laurel are classed as Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) in the UK. They spread across the woodland, gradually stopping sunlight from reaching the woodland floor which is home to an important mix of seeds, vital for supporting our native animals and plants. Work has been done in Park Wood and Columbjohn Wood to remove invasive rhododendron and cherry laurel. This will allow the native plants and flowers to reestablish themselves and provide a richer environment for our wildlife. A healthy, diverse habitat will allow more of the species we treasure, such as rare butterflies and dormice, to thrive long into the future.


Clearing holly - March 2021

Holly has been cleared from Paradise Copse, as it can take over the woodland if not controlled. As with the rhodendron and laurel, the plant gradually stops sunlight from reaching the woodland floor which is home to an important mix of seeds. These seeds are vital for supporting our native animals and plants. By removing the holly, it will allow the native plants and flowers to re-establish themselves and provide a richer environment for our wildlife. 

The logos for the Green Recovery Fund

This project is funded by the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.