THE newly elected president of Devon County Agricultural Association has warned that the future of the county’s woodlands could be at risk if forestry owners are not given clearer guidance on the twin threats of tree disease and grey squirrel damage.

The Hon George Lopes, who took over the role from Mary Quicke, said forestry owners ‘desperately’ need clear guidance on how to protect their woodlands at the association’s AGM on Friday. “I’m thrilled and honoured to have been asked to take on this role because the work of the DCAA in developing and promoting farming and forestry is so close to my own heart”, he said.

“Despite last year’s appalling weather, it is undoubtedly forestry which faces the more uncertain future, with grey squirrels wreaking havoc with young trees on the one hand and the ever-growing threat from tree diseases on the other.

“The future of Devon’s woodlands is at stake, yet several of the organisations which are supposed to be looking after them seem to be interested only in promoting public access to scrub woodland.”