Impact Update: Exmoor Tree Nursery

In March 2021, DEF awarded a grant to Exmoor National Park Authority to enable them to set up a new community tree nursery on Exmoor to establish new resilient, native woodland in the upper catchments of the rivers Exe and Barle.

The overarching aims of the project were to plant native saplings from local seed, collected by the community, to prevent downstream flooding and soil erosion; while enhancing water quality, increasing biodiversity and sequestering carbon using nature-based solutions.

DEF connected the team at ENPA with our contacts at Moor Trees to enable best practice sharing between the organisationS, to accelerate the project’s progress and enable them to benefit from Moor Trees’ extensive experience.

Here is a mini update on the project so far:


In spite of the challenging working environment due to Covid, excellent progress has been made involving the ENPA project Team, Moor Trees, and volunteers.

Initial contacts with volunteers, community groups and the local school indicate tremendous enthusiasm which is very encouraging.

There is already a community of amateur seed collectors and tree growers, who regularly donate trees, that is looking forward to working with the project team.

Contact with Moor Trees has been incredibly useful. The skill, knowledge, and  information transferred between reciprocal visits, Zoom meetings, and e-mail has been invaluable. The time and input provided by Moor Trees’ Director, Adam Owen, has been particularly welcomed as he and his team are clearly busy.

The ENPA team look forward to working with Moor Trees in the future as the project develops.


Adam and the Moor Trees team suggested alterations to the nursery design, and provided advice on general management and operations.

Their input led to changes to the overall shape and size of nursery to improve internal land use efficiency, vehicular access, and landscape impact.

Their suggested alterations to buildings design and location enabled the project to incorporate an efficient irrigation system and solar power into the design.

Here is the current draft design of the nursery layout:


Following the project ethos of procuring materials locally, from renewable sources, eliminating plastics and harmful chemicals, ENPA has manufactured cleft chestnut posts for the perimeter fence from timber thinned from their own woodlands, which also helps reinforce the beneficial principles of local supply chains.

Local skilled contractors were employed to carry out this work.

This material is natural, durable, supports woodland management and has low
“timber miles”.


The next few weeks will see a more detailed operational plan for the nursery emerge with key volunteer posts and roles identified an operational team structure developed.

Construction details for the perimeter fencing (which will be the first item of infrastructure), services (water, power etc) and seed preparation, germination and growing areas will be decided.

We will share another progress update in Autumn 2021.

Find out more about the project here.

Huge thanks goes to Devon Community Foundation and Care Moor for Exmoor for co-funding this project wiht us and making it possible.

Images courtesy of Exmoor National Park Authority