High Weald

Tree establishment

Preventing tree loss and increasing tree cover is widely recognised as a way in which the world’s population can tackle the climate crisis. Recognising the huge enthusiasm to plant trees we have produced a guide to establishing the ‘right tree in the right place’ in the High Weald.

landscape woods fieldsThe High Weald AONB is fortunate in that it already has many trees; it is the most wooded landscape in the country with 28% woodland cover (three times the national average). Its many small woodlands, connected by hedges, offer a vision for a wooded landscape that other parts of the country (and world) aspire to.

The great extent of woodland is no accident; for centuries the area’s woods were valued and protected by our ancestors. Trees provided timber and fuel for many industries, notably the Tudor iron industry. These days woods continue to be managed for timber but are increasingly valued for their recreation, wildlife, flood management and carbon capture and storage benefits.

Right tree, right place

As a national landscape the impact of change needs to be carefully considered, whether building development or land use change, such as tree planting. Because there are so many special qualities that make up the medieval landscape there are many factors to consider with any change. The guide’s main points are:

• The High Weald is naturally suited to growing trees.
• Planting new trees is often not needed, trees will naturally ‘regenerate’ from seed if land is not grazed or mown.
• Natural regeneration is cost-effective, creates woodland with species typical of the area and avoids the risk of importing disease.
• There are lots of different ways of introducing trees into the High Weald landscape; in many places ‘block’ tree planting is best avoided.
• Re-instating lost woods and hedges is a priority for tree and shrub establishment.
• Tree establishment should avoid rare species-rich grassland. In autumn and winter it is hard to tell if you have species-rich grassland; a survey in the spring/summer is therefore recommended.
• Woodland establishment should be in keeping with the High Weald’s historic field patterns, many of which are medieval in origin.
• Tree establishment should avoid blocking scenic views.
• Deer management is essential to tree establishment and health.
• As well as tree establishment, there are other actions that can help reverse climate change, restore nature and reduce flood risk, for example introducing regenerative farming practices.

If you would like help with planning a tree planting project, including finding out if your grassland is species-rich, or where woods and trees might have been lost, please contact our land management project officers, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further information

A High Weald Guide to the Right Tree in the Right Place (coming soon) 
High Weald Responsible Planting Guide (coming soon): introductory guidance to planting woodlands, hedgerows, ponds and wildflower grasslands
Detailed guidance on planting woodlands:
Woodland Trust - How to plant trees
Tree Council - Tree Planting Guide
Forestry Commission - Creating Woodland Overview

You may also be interested in

The High Weald's woodland story
Deer management
pdf High Weald AONB Management Plan 2019-2024 (14.01 MB)  which sets out objectives and actions for maintaining and increasing the extent of our trees and woods.

hedge planting landscape