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"Huge improvements" to Follaton Arboretum in Totnes

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"Huge improvements" to Follaton Arboretum in Totnes

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A long-term project to make lasting improvements to Follaton Arboretum in Totnes is close to completion.

Planting and pruning have been a key part of the works carried out at the site, which is a treasured outdoor space on the edge of the town, neighbouring South Hams District Council’s offices at Follaton House.

40 varied large standard trees have been planted to complement existing trees, while several hundred whips (young trees) have also been planted to create new wildlife copses.

Extensive pruning has been carried out to open up the entrance, re-establish views and improve the health of trees at the arboretum.

Meadows have also been enhanced, with scything and raking of the lower slopes, creating spaces for wildflowers to grow and restoring habitats for wildlife.

As well as making the space more suitable for flora and fauna, the main path from the site entrance to the top of the arboretum has been resurfaced, making the site more accessible than ever.

The previous surface was laid in the mid-1990s and was in poor condition, making it difficult to navigate for wheelchair users, those with prams and buggies, and mobility scooter users.

With the work on the path completed, attention will turn to replacing the pagoda at the top of the arboretum, a new ‘tree trail’ and possible surfaced path extension, some of which will require external grant applications.

Cllr John McKay, South Hams Executive Member for Climate Change and Biodiversity, said: “Improving biodiversity across the South Hams is a key priority for the Council, so where better to start that work than on our own doorstep?

“Visitors to the arboretum should see a noticeable improvement and biodiversity is bound to improve following the hard work of our Grounds Maintenance team in partnership with ParkLife SW and volunteers.

“Southern marsh orchids seem to be benefitting well, with over 200 counted on the lower slopes this summer.

“Enjoying the outdoors is a hugely important part of our wellbeing, so I’m also delighted to see that the path has been improved too, opening up the arboretum to even more visitors. It’s a great space for walking and I hope as many people as possible take the opportunity to visit and explore the arboretum.”

The works have been carried out by the district council’s grounds maintenance team and Parklife South West, a local environment community interest company.

Keith Rennells, a director of ParkLife South West, said: “It is great to have made good progress over the last couple of years with enhancing the arboretum for people and wildlife. It is an important space for the community, with local groups focusing their activities at the arboretum, and people visiting for enjoyment and exercise in a natural space.

“ParkLife was set up to support community environmental volunteering, and the arboretum offers plenty of opportunity for local involvement going forward, including further enhancing the trees and wildflower meadow areas. It is also a positive way of directly contributing to the effects of our changing climate.”

A number of local groups are involved with managing parts of the arboretum. The funding for the works came from the District Council’s Land and Development Reserve and Section 106 funds.

 

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