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Work to increase biodiversity at beautiful Exeter greenspace gathers pace

Published: 2 February 2024

Work to increase biodiversity at beautiful Exeter greenspace gathers pace Northbrook Park

Work to transform a former Exeter golf course into a tranquil greenspace for people and wildlife is continuing.

Dozens of fruit trees have been planted at the 4.5 hectare Northbrook Park, adjacent to Topsham Road, which is owned by the Council and managed by Devon Wildlife Trust.

The trees will become a community orchard in the years ahead, for people to come and pick their own fruit.

A wildflower meadow is being created to bring colour and wildlife to the space as well as thousands of bulbs planted and a large range of new hedgerow trees.

Emily Cuff, Nature Recovery Officer at Devon Wildlife Trust, said: “We think this space will be a valuable addition to our parks in Exeter and this creates a wonderful corridor between Ludwell and Riverside valley parks – a corridor for nature and people.

“We will create around three hectares of wildflower meadow, a lot of native hedgerow trees have been planted to quieten down the surroundings. The orchard will be for people and nature and new paths will help people move around.

“The overall vision is for a wild arboretum – a calm and tranquil tree space. We want people to come and enjoy this all year round and for it to bring joy all year round.”

Ruth Williams, Lead Councillor for Place and City Management, said: “We’ve been planting fruit trees today and this will become a fantastic community orchard for people to come and pick the fruit.

“We’ve also planted 300 whips which will provide a wonderful softening hedgerow and will be great for wildlife.

“A lot of people will remember this as the old pitch and putt. This is going to be a much bigger community facility that will be enjoyed by everyone who comes here. It also joins to the Ludwell Valley Park and the Riverside Valley Park, this is really great use of the land.

“It is really important that we continue to increase out tree canopy and our partners at the Devon Wildlife Trust have some really great plans to make a space for everyone to come and enjoy.”

Cllr Josie Parkhouse, Lead Councillor for Climate and Ecological Crisis: “This space is so important because the Council is reducing its emissions, but we also need increase biodiversity in the city, the number of trees and all of the things that are so valuable in reducing our carbon footprint.

“It is one of the really tangible things that we are doing in the city. At one point this land was earmarked for housing but we listened to the community and the views of residents and this is the result – we have a beautiful piece of land that is only going to get better in the years ahead.”

In 2022 a public consultation showed that more than 90% of local people approved a vision to create an arboretum with open areas and meadows.

Hundreds of new native species trees have been planted as well as thousands of bulbs like daffodils, bluebells and wild garlic.

Alongside the community orchard, upgrades to access and the footpath which runs through the heart of the site is also planned.

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