Ayreshaynes Architects
Ayreshaynes Architects
Ayreshaynes Architects

Gara Lodge

Location: South Devon
Services: Landscape management
Status: Planning Application Submitted 2018
POI: Designed woodland management with clearance and replanting for treehouse accommodation

Working alongside arboricultural and ecologist consultants to create a woodland management plan as part of the provision of tree house lodge holiday accommodation

Private woodland project

Blending into the South Devon countryside, Gara treehouse lodges give any visitor the chance to reach out and touch nature in a unique setting. Working alongside specialist arboricultural and ecologist consultants, we were commissioned to undertake the preparation of a woodland management plan.

This would form the basis of the provision of tree house lodge holiday accommodation within 6-acres of private woodland along the Avon River Valley in South Devon.

Woodland management

The woodland is primarily broadleaved, comprising a range of mainly native woodland species. In addition to this, the understorey included often dense areas of Laurel and Rhododendron, originally planted in the Victorian period.

Considered invasive, these evergreen shrubs were dominating and smothering large parts of the woodland. Such vegetation decreases the variety of plant species present on the woodland floor, including native shrubs such as hazel and hawthorn, and carpets of Bluebells. The design intention for the woodland management of the site was for a high-quality environment that:

  • Reinforces and enhances the existing woodland and ecological qualities
  • Maintains current woodland character while replacing trees that are lost during construction
  • Provides a clear landscape setting for the development in keeping with the site and surrounding area
  • Enhances existing woodland through control of invasive species and replanting of native species, in a way that significantly increases the ecological and amenity value

The aim of the plan is to ensure the design intentions can be achieved through a long term, coordinated, and informed approach to landscape management. The woodland plan sets out the phased removal of the Laurel and Rhododendron with a replacement planting scheme. Implemented over 10 years, this would be manageable for the landowner.

Clearance and replanting

The process started with a detailed survey and mapping of the existing landscape, looking at the vegetation components that make up the woodland, i.e. trees, shrubs and ground flora. Management objectives were then set for each component, followed by a detailed schedule of management operations setting out an annual programme of works.

We also prepared a detailed specification document to include phasing plans for vegetation clearance and replanting to replenish the woodland with appropriate species. Where possible, plants will be moved from parts of the site where they are in abundance, to areas that have been cleared of Laurel and Rhododendron and are devoid of vegetation.