Woodland Trust Hazel Dormouse Hero

£2.5m bid to turn Devon site into woodland wildlife haven

Image credit: David Kjaer / naturepl.com via The Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust is bidding to turn a rural Devon site into new woods for an array of wildlife, in the county where the charity first started its work 50 years ago.

The nature charity is asking for the public’s help to urgently raise the remaining £1m of the £2.5m asking price needed to transform land near Lympstone, close to the Exe Estuary in Devon, with a mixture of planting and letting trees and shrubs grow back naturally.

Areas will also be left as open ground with wood pasture and grassland and it is hoped the project will create conditions for a range of species to colonise, including rare nightjars, threatened bats, hazel dormice (pictured above) and dingy skipper butterflies.

The 54-hectare (134-acre) site could even attract beavers from the nearby River Otter population once streams and waterways have been restored and colonised with native alder, willow and other trees, the charity said.

The area is currently made up of farmland and small pockets of existing broadleaf woodland and bluebells, as well as several streams and old individual trees.

The Woodland Trust says volunteers and local people will be involved in creating the new wooded landscape, that there will be public access, and that the tree planting will be done without using plastic tree guards.

The charity is celebrating its 50th year, having begun life as a group of friends in Devon discussing saving a local wood in 1972, which quickly led to the charity’s first purchase – Avon Woods – in the county. It now cares for 1,000 woods across the UK and campaigns to protect others from development.

The Trust has already raised £1.5m towards acquisition and management of the plot, but still needs another £1m for the project and says time is running out as it needs to finalise the purchase by March.

Paul Allen, site manager in Devon for the Woodland Trust, said: “Nestled in a hidden valley in east Devon, the site has areas of existing broadleaf woodland, several streams and a scattering of isolated veteran trees, which would once have been part of hedgerows, criss-crossing fields.

“What makes this land such a prize is the outstanding array of rare wildlife found nearby, and which we hope will move in, once a richer variety of habitats, from trees to open spaces, have been established.

“In our 50th year, with the twin threats of climate change and nature loss looming ever larger, it’s a hugely important time to create this woodland and provide more spaces for nature to thrive and improve the connectivity of the wider landscape.”

More details about the Devon woodland campaign, and how to donate to the charity, are available online.

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