Ash Moor habitat restoration

This 40 hectare site has a troubled past. In 2002 it was chosen as a burial site for cattle infected during the foot and mouth crisis. Fortunately the site was never used and the reserve has been transformed into a wonderful network of meadows, ponds and wetlands.

Paths are cut each year through themeadow and around the pond, making great butterfly and insect highways.The site is grazed with cattle (mixed including rubys, south devon and
longhorn cows) with the occasional Exmoor pony grazing too – who will eat some of the scrub that the cows aren’t that keen on. Recently the stream had broken its bank so a channel was put back in, to ensure continued flow. A woodland copse had been planted, which will help to create a diverse structure with more varied habitat. Some aftercare was recently needed including the removal of tubes and stakes, which have now done the job of protecting the young plants through their early stages of growth.

All of the ongoing work DWT do at this reserve ensures we are enriching the habitat and allowing wildlife to thrive. Some of the species found here include a wide range of dragonflies and damselflies, an odd sighting of a marsh fritillary butterfly a UK BAP priority species, that mainly feeds on devil’s-bit scabious. Management of the site is increasing the amount of devil’s-bit scabious, so we hope we may get more marsh fritillaries in the years to come. Of special note are also some bird species such as hobbies and tree pipits this year. A barn owl has also been seen hunting for food in this area and both jack and common snipe have been visiting in winter, and we hope to see some of these again in 2021.

Restore were happy to provide funding at the beginning of this programme of restoration.

 

 

 

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).

This 63 hectare Reserve, near Holsworthy  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. It was named Devon`s Coronation Meadow in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of HRH The Queen.

With such wonderful wildflower areas, this has also become a seed donor site – each year we harvest some of its wildflower seed to create new wildflower meadows nearby. Such an important legacy and ensuring that we can have more areas with such diversity for insects
and other animals that rely on them.

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).

An example of some of the work carried out since 2015 as follows.

Grazing
The internal stock fencing and some internal boundaries have been removed to allow cattle access to the site in three large grazing blocks including woodland and scrub areas.
This has resulted in more natural grazing behaviour where the cattle will favour some areas and avoid other parts of the grassland.

Marsh fritillary butterflies appear to be thriving in this new regime. Other grassland species are also doing well, with plants such as petty whin, three lobed crowfoot and devil’s-bit scabious being recorded in new areas. Work carried out to reduce scrub in some of the grassland areas has enabled the spread of lesser butterfly orchid, a nationally
important population.

In the woodlands, where no cattle have had access for 50 years or more, the ground flora is developing and becoming more diverse, as the layer of low bramble which covered much
of the woodland floor is becoming more broken through the actions of browsing cattle. The cattle themselves are also more calm as they are able to avoid excessive wind, rain and sun by grazing in the woodland areas.

Scrub clearance
The ongoing work to remove some larger areas of scrub and also create areas of succession
along the scrubby boundaries of some fields is progressing well. Most of these areas will now be left to develop naturally and will respond to the ongoing management regime of grazing and swaling.

Andrews Wood Reserve

Andrew’s Wood Reserve, near Loddiswell is a 45 hectare site of important UK biodiversity full of wildlife and wonderful views.

Plants such as ragged robin, wild angelica, lesser spearwort,devils-bit scabious, watermint, sneezewort and many other plants have become really abundant especially where areas have cleared  of bramble and gorse that were threatening to smother the whole site.

A new pond was put in 2019 and this now has tadpoles, and many dragonflies/damselflies using it including broad-bodied chasers, common blue damselflies and Emperor dragonflies.

In 2015 some reptile hibernaculum were built  and  about 250 slowworms were `rehomed” onto the field  as part of a mitigation program from a nearby housing development.

Grass snakes have been seen occasionally here and common lizards are often seen basking on some of the big quartzite rocks.

Two Dartmoor ponies – Trigger and Shy graze Cuckoo field throughout the year and do a great job of helping to control the grasses and where their hooves create areas of bare ground, this allows the spread and germination of many  uncommon plants all of which are important for insects and other animals.

Barn owls have occasionally been seen in the winter feeding over this area. Rough grassland and grass strips alongside the edge of woods are important hunting habitat for barn owls, and without these within a certain distance of their roosting and nesting sites, the owls would not thrive.

Greater horseshoe bats are often seen feeding over Cuckoo field in the summer. They rely on these meadows packed with wildflowers because they are well stocked with their favourite insect food – cockchafers, moths and craneflies. These rare bats also feast on beetles attracted to the meadows by horse dung.

Native bees and moths are important pollinators of wild and agricultural plants too, and these meadows provide the copious nectar that they need for their very existence. The diverse array of plants here also attract many butterflies – clouded yellows, brimstones, speckled woods, large skippers, common blue and holly blue are just some of the species found here.

Harvest mice nests have also been found on this reserve in the brambles and long grasses. They feed on grass seeds, fruit, berries, grain and sometimes insects in the winter. The
ideal habitat is brambles, long grass and hedgerows, all of which can be found at Andrews Wood. This is a nationally rare species, in part due to suitable habitat decline making reserves like this extremely important.

Restore were pleased to provide funding for this important reserve..

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.

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.