Trees Hedges and Woodland
Cornwall's landscape is of national and international importance as well as being vitally important to the local economy. Twenty-seven per cent of the County is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a further 24% as Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV). The landscape is formed from a combination of climate, geology, natural features and human activity. The landscape has been described through the Cornwall Landscape Characterisation Project and under Historic Landscape Characterisation on the Landscape Survey and Assessment page. These are useful resources for understanding our landscape.
Cornwall is a land of contrasts and this is reflected in its trees and woodlands. From the champion trees and valuable commercial timber of the sheltered valleys to the bent and windswept trees of the exposed hills and coast and the magical estuarine oakwoods (the Cornish 'Rainforest'). Often considered to be poorly treed, Cornwall has many hidden gems and whilst growing trees in Cornwall can be challenging it is not without reward.
The natural characteristics of our towns are very varied, which reflect local topography, climate and history. Trees are frequently the largest of our natural features that benefit urban places in terms of landscape improvement, biodiversity and other ecosystem services. Trees and shrubs make an important contribution to the health and wellbeing of people.
Although a relatively poorly wooded county (7.5% compared with the national average of 8.4%) trees and woodlands are an important component of the landscape. Whether they be ancient estuarine oak woodlands, the windswept hedgerow trees lining our winding country lanes or the specimen trees in our parks and gardens, all trees and woodlands help define our sense of place as well as supporting a wide range of species.
Cornish hedges and hedgerows
Other important features of the Cornish landscape are the Cornish hedges that divide the fields, and line our lanes and roads, and the traditional orchards. Many hedges are of great antiquity and wildlife value with their great variety often defining a location.
In residential areas domestic hedgerows can occasionally cause distress to neighbours because of their size and advice is given in these pages to assist.
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in the management of traditional orchards as well as the conservation of our old local fruit varieties.
Cornwall's landscape is highly managed and some practices or changes in management regimes have had unfortunate side effects. Our increased interest in gardening and exotic plants over the last 200 years has led to a great number of introduced species and cultivars. Many have made Cornish gardens the envy of the world, however, some have made themselves at home and have become highly invasive, spreading over the garden hedge and into the countryside, displacing our natural flora. Cornwall is currently pioneering work in the control of invasive alien weeds such as Japanese knotweed. There are also a few problem native invasive weeds such as common Ragwort which require careful and co-ordinated management to limit its spread.