Skip to content

Our work at Ashclyst Forest

Sunlight in woodland at Killerton, Devon
Sunlight in woodland at Killerton | © National Trust Images/Fi Hailstone

With acres of woodland, vital conservation work takes place on a regular basis to keep Ashclyst Forest and the wider Killerton Estate protected for future generations. Read more about the work we do.

Woodland management

To have a healthy, diverse and resilient woodland we must actively manage our woods on the estate by cutting down some trees and supporting new growth to establish. We often thin blocks of trees, conifers especially, to allow those that remain to get more light and become stronger. This usually involves taking specific rows of trees out in sequence. Some of the remaining trees will then become our veteran trees of the future.

Supporting wildlife

By thinning the trees, this allows sunlight to reach the woodland floor and provides habitats for all types of insects, butterflies and wildlife. Once the trees are felled, they will often be sold to local sawmills to be turned into paper, building materials, and occasionally wood chip or even toilet rolls. Any wood left on the ground has been done so deliberately.

Although this may seem wasteful and look untidy, the decaying wood and hollows provides the perfect habitat for threatened insects and wildlife. Nutrients are then returned to the soil which is vital for new woodland growth to occur.

Specialist contractors

Due to the size of the forestry operations and complexity of our woods we can’t always use horses and fell trees by hand. Instead, we often use specialist local contractors who have the most appropriate equipment to carry out the job, and who can obtain the most from the trees.

Planting new trees

To further enhance our woodland age structure, we also carry out planting of new trees where applicable, using small trees called whips. We carefully nurture them to become the wood’s future trees. We also encourage natural regeneration by seeds from nearby trees, these are often better suited to local conditions on the estate.

Smiling child hugging a tree in the garden at Trerice, Cornwall


Everyone needs nature, now more than ever. Donate today and you could help people and nature to thrive at the places we care for.

You might also be interested in

Leaves from a tree with shades of orange and gold

Exploring Ashclyst Forest 

Ashclyst Forest is one of the largest woods in East Devon and a haven for wildlife. It's the perfect place to reconnect with nature whether it's for a family ramble or dog walk.

A dormouse poking its head out ranger's hands that are carefully holding it during box checks in the woodlands at Killerton, Devon

Our work at Killerton 

Killerton’s estate is home to wildlife of all sizes and some animals, especially bats and dormice, need a helping hand so are being monitored and protected by the team of rangers.

Path lined with spring flowers at Killerton, Devon

Things to do on the estate at Killerton 

Explore the forests, orchards and parkland on the vast estate at Killerton and discover the creatures that live here, from Highland cows and dormice to bats and butterflies.

Volunteers and staff members carry out restoration planting on the grounds at Killerton, Devon

Volunteering at Killerton 

Killerton relies on more than 400 volunteers to carry out conservation work across its house and estate and is looking for more people to join its friendly and dedicated team.

View of the main drive heading to the house with daffodils in the foreground at Killerton, Devon


A family home and a great estate. Glorious landscape garden surrounded by parkland with fine 18th-century house.

Exeter, Devon

Fully open today
A group of hikers climb a path through woodland towards the camera

For everyone, for ever: our strategy to 2025 

Read about our strategy 'For everyone, for ever' here at the National Trust, which will take the organisation through to 2025.

Ranger in National Trust fleece inspecting white blossom on tree in orchard

Our cause 

We believe that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. That’s why we’re supporting wildlife, protecting historic sites and more. Find out about our work.