A FAMILY who donated £25,000 to CareMoor for Exmoor's ‘Woods and Trees’ appeal have planted the first trees of the new King's Wood near Simonsbath.

The Richards family wanted to celebrate the lives of parents Denys and Cicely Richards, who loved Exmoor.

The chestnut guard protecting the first parkland tree will bear a plaque dedicated to the couple, while an opportunity for other families to do the same has been launched by the National Park.

Through its CareMoor for Exmoor scheme, the authority is inviting donors to sponsor other large parkland trees at Simonsbath, each enclosed by a tree guard, made at Exford from local, sustainable chestnut.

Senior woodland conservation officer Graeme McVittie moor National Park Authority said: “Each guard will protect the sapling from deer and cattle for a minimum of 15 years.

"The area will remain a farmed landscape and the stock will benefit from the shelter the trees offer.

"A donation of £750 to CareMoor can secure sponsorship of one of these parkland trees which will live for well over 500 years.

“Further planting of 6,000 smaller trees to create King's Wood will take place this winter, many at a volunteer event later in December.

"We’ve grown saplings from seeds harvested from Exmoor at our Exford tree nursery.

"Knowing the effects that climate change is already having, we’ve prioritised a selection of trees that we are confident will thrive in the National Park. We’ve included sessile oaks, sycamore, Scots pine, silver birch, and mountain ash, all of which will grow well in a challenging environment."

Mr McVittie added: "We're working to recover temperate rainforest, increase tree cover and create a more resilient landscape.

"Our aim is for King's Wood to become a truly sustainable woodland and donations to the CareMoor Woods and Trees Appeal are really helping our efforts.

"Last winter, donations to CareMoor supported our planting of 13,000 trees at Bye Wood near Winsford."

Mark Richards and his sister Julia and brother-in-law Steve have visited the Simonsbath site to plant the first saplings.

Mark said: “My sisters, Sarah and Julia and I are looking forward to spending time here with our children and grandchildren for years to come.

"The trees and dedication plaque are the perfect way for our parents to be remembered and it’s wonderful to be a part of nature recovery on Exmoor.”

Donations to CareMoor for Exmoor, and sponsorship of parkland trees can be made at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor or at Exmoor National Park Centres at Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth.