Houndtor and Wray ancient broadleaf woodland restoration

Restore Our Planet contributed to the Trust’s acquisition of Houndtor and Wray, securing the future of a vital component of an area of international conservation importance on the south-eastern side of Dartmoor National Park.

Once purchased work began to restore these coniferised ancient woods to native broadleaf species, in order to reconstitute a substantial area of ancient woodland and protect and develop the natural heritage and biodiversity of the wider area, known as the Bovey Valley Woods. Houndtor (65acres) forms part of a woodland area now covering 720 acres and Wray (56acres) forms part of a contiguous area now covering 700 acres.

The project also had specific biodiversity benefits. The now protected rivers and brooks provide micro-climates for bryophytes, ferns and lichens; archaeological features provide niche habitats for fungi and lichens. The woods provide homes for a wide range of wildlife including rare fritillary butterflies, dormice and wood ants believed to be present in both the acquired woods.

Woods on your doorstep

‘Woods on your Doorstep’ – the Woodland Trust’s millennium project – enabled 250 local communities across the UK to design and plant new, local and accessible woods that now provide much loved amenities for local people and are benefiting the landscape and wildlife.

Restore Our Planet stepped in to provide crucial funding to help three local communities in Devon, Greater Manchester and Sheffield, which were struggling to raise the funding they needed: Tramlines Wood, Okehampton, Devon – The small size of the planting at Tramlines Wood belies its importance. Just one acre of wet meadowland, an increasingly rare habitat, has been planted with scattered willows, leaving plenty of open space to encourage the widest possible range of wild flowers to colonise and thrive.

This new plantation lies between and now protects and links a range of distinctive habitats along the river valley, including ancient woodland. Local people are intrigued and pleased by the number of plant and animal species now colonising the site, including increasing numbers of bats which hunt along the river and meadow. A new footbridge has been erected to provide easy access to local playing fields and to the local college and youth hostel, which is encouraging young people to visit the site and explore along the river. Springfield Copse, Greater Manchester Local people have planted 700 native trees, including oak, ash, birch, hazel, rowan and crab apple, on just over half this site. They are thriving and a rich mosaic of habitats is developing around the trees and along the streams and wet flushes which are a feature of the site.

Springfield Copse is situated close to Stockport and its growing population. Local people describe the site as a wonderful tranquil oasis and particularly value the experience of being part of such an interesting restoration project. Wantley Dragon Wood was designed and planted as a 16 acre extension to Bitholmes Wood, an ancient woodland in Sheffield that was already owned by the Woodland Trust.

Adjoining Firth Wood has since been added to the landholding, making Wantley Dragon Wood a vital part of a site that now covers about 100 acres in total. Natural regeneration from Bitholmes Wood has been supplemented by local people planting oak, ash, birch, cherry, rowan and field maple. The new plantation has quickly become established and is now blending well with the pr-existing woodland.

The size of the entire site is a great incentive to people to visit it and local people are proud of the part they continue to play in the protection of the area.

Hunters Moon Tree Nursery

Launched thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund`s Breathing Places programme and as part of the Dartington Estate Landscape project, this exciting tree nursery project started in summer 2008. The project has four strands – tree growing, biodiversity, community and education – all feeding into the main aim of Moor Trees, the restoration of native UK woodland.

Restore Our Planet has agreed to help fund the next stage of the project at Hunters Moon near Dartington in Devon. The first batch of locally collected tree seed (predominantly acorns) have been sown in the newly created raised beds. These will ultimately be lifted as saplings (`whips`) and planted in local ancient woodlands. Other species to be grown include Ash, Birch, Hazel, Rowan and Hawthorn.

A wet area, wildlife hedgerow, bird boxes and insect habitats have also been introduced at the site. The local community has been engaged through volunteers of all ages working at the site each week while various volunteering and practical conservation courses will be made available to people of all abilities.

Sherracombe Wood broadleaf forest restoration

Sherracombe wood is a 30 hectare woodland mostly comprised of conifers near Brayford on the western edge of the Exmoor National Park in Devon.

It has been acquired by the Badgeworthy Land company with the objective of enhancing its biodiversity and landscape. A 5 year restoration plan was prepared to provide a detailed framework for the removal of the conifer plantation and the restoration of the ancient broadleaf woodland, heathland and other habitats.

Restore Our Planet has supported the conifer clearance, broadleaf planting and associated restoration work.

Ludwell Valley Park Hedgerow restoration

Over 5 years the Ludwell Valley park restoration project will restore a country park to the south-east of Exeter on the fringe of one of the largest housing estates in the south-west. Restore Our Planet has supported this project which will have a huge impact on the local biodiversity and will ensure the site is protected from future development.

The majority of hedgerows in the park are overgrown and in many parts represent a thin line of trees rather than thick bushy hedgerow. The restoration plan involves laying or ‘steeping’ 2000m of overgrown hedgerow combined with interplanting using a variety of shrub species to combat loss due to disease.

Exeter City Council’s six countryside valley parks on the city’s urban fringe represent an important and easily accesssible resource. Ludwell park is not at present rich in wildlife, the hedgerow restoration and tree planting that Restore have financed will assist in rapidly building up a strong food based chain of the sort required to reinvigorate local biodiversity.

Many of the UK’s native mammals such as mice, voles, shrews, stoats, rabbitsnd badgers make their homes in hedgerows. 5 birds of prey species are regularly observed in the park including Barn Owls. Reed buntings and cirl buntings are also present aswell as a number of species of bat and butterfly.

Ash Moor habitat restoration

No recent event left more of a mark on north Devon than the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in 2001. When the Government realised the carcass burning had to stop, they commissioned a burial pit at Ash Moor, near Great Torrington.

Land was compulsorily purchased, a road was built and vast holes were dug. However, the disease abated and the dead animals never came, leaving Ash Moor to stand as a grim reminder. The local community approached Devon Wildlife Trust to take over the site and turn it to the public good.

We have helped fund DWT’s ambitious programme of habitat restoration to produce a mosaic of hedgerow, grassland, copse and pond. Summer grazing with cattle, a winter burn and controlling the dominance of rushes will help regenerate the Culm grassland found here and a new pond will encourage dragonflies and damselflies to visit the site.

Additionally an increase in Devil`s bit scabious plants should encourage marsh fritillary butterflies some of which have been spotted less than a mile from Ash Moor. Over the summer 2007 DWT`s reserve officers have observed wood white butterflies (a nationally threatened species) and a family of hobbies.

Andrews wood reserve – extension

Andrew’s Wood Reserve, near Loddiswell is a site of important UK biodiversity containing the largest stand in Western Europe of the rare heath lobelia, which is found at only five other sites in the UK. We have helped fund DWT in extending and enhancing the reserve.

This has included the purchase of adjacent fields and the restoration of the heath mire habitat. Other improvements to the existing woodland are significantly extending the range of the heath Lobelia and providing ideal habitat for local dormice. These dormice are in notable decline nationally but numbers within the wood are now to be on the increase. Recent monitoring has revealed the largest dormouse ever recorded (44 grams!).

Dunsdon Nature Reserve

Devon Wildlife Trust purchased Dunsdon Farm in 2000, shortly after which it was declared a National Nature Reserve (one of only 4 in Devon).

The Reserve, near Holsworthy is a 97 acre site of Culm Grassland also enjoying SAC status under the EU Habitats Directive – the highest form of environmental designation. This internationally rare wet grassland is a very diverse wildlife habitat extremely rich in wild flowers and supporting an immense range of other wildlife.

The site is vitally important for its colony of Marsh Fritillary butterflys (one of the ten most threatened spicies in Europe). Restore Our Planet have helped fund the Devonshire Wildlife Trust in its activities to regenerate the biodiversity of the area through scrub clearance and by re-establishing light grazing by cattle and swaling (controlled burning).

Orchard Creation

The Barn Owl Trust carries out a wide range of important activities in pursuit of its main aim, the conservation of the Barn Owl and its environment. This includes practical conservation work, scientific research, the production and distribution of educational material, school visits and the operation of a free national information and advice service and welfare facilities for sick and injured owls.

At the reserve at Waterleat in Devon the Trust is looking to re-plant an old orchard with traditional varieties of apples. This will provide a great source of food all year round for small mammals and in turn Barn Owls. The orchard will be situated next to a 25 acre plot of rough grassland which is ideal hunting habitat. Restore Our Planet have agreed to fund the scrub clearance where the orchard will be located and the purchase of the appropriate trees.