15 Minutes With… Devon Wildlife Trust’s Woodah Farm

Feb 24, 2023 | Featured Articles, Interviews



15 Minutes With… Devon Wildlife Trust’s Woodah Farm

Feb 24, 2023 | Featured Articles, Interviews

We catch up with the Devon Wildlife Trust to learn more about their ambitious national nature recovery project that’s locally in motion in the Teign Valley. 

A Devon farm has been unveiled as part of an ambitious national nature recovery project which aims to develop natural solutions to storing carbon and combating climate change.

Locally the project is being led by the Devon Wildlife Trust and focusses on the charity’s Woodah Farm – a 57 hectare working farm in the Teign Valley.

With support from the People’s Postcode Lottery the Trust has bold plans for the project it is calling ‘Wilder Woodah’. This will see a return of wildlife in greater numbers and diversity. The farm will also become a ‘demonstration site’ used by the Trust to show visitors and local farmers how practical ‘nature-based’ solutions can be developed for Devon.

To achieve this, large areas of the farm will be returned to ‘natural processes’ that include more closely following the way prehistoric grazing animals played a role in maintaining a diverse mixture of habitats.

Among the initiatives, levels of grazing animals will be reduced, 8,000 new trees planted with many more occurring through natural regeneration, and temporary ‘exclosures’ will go up to protect the saplings from local deer browsing.

Peter Burgess, Devon Wildlife Trust Director of Nature Recovery, outlined the vision: “We will invigorate natural processes to build carbon rich, healthy soils. A dynamic and diverse mixture of woodlands, scrub, meadows and wetlands will naturally regenerate and flourish across the farm. Rare species will bounce back and more common species, which are the engine room of nature’s recovery, will be seen in far greater abundance.”

Burgess said he fully understood local farmers may not be able to replicate all the processes.

“Woodah Farm will be a test bed to reveal techniques to help tackle both the climate and biodiversity crisis in Devon’s farmland. Farmers can take forward elements trialed at Woodah to apply to their own farms as appropriate and realistic.”

The Trust expects increasing numbers of rare insects including brown hairstreak and grizzled skipper butterflies, plus more visits by endangered greater horseshoe bats.  

University of Exeter researchers will also help reveal other major changes. They will look at alterations in vegetation cover and type, in soil structure and carbon, in earthworm numbers and in levels of key nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.

Find out more about the project at www.devonwildlifetrust.org 

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Burrator Reservoir Accessible Walk

This manageable there and back route offers easy walking and wheeling along the eastern side of the reservoir and to the dams, plus additional access to the wildlife trail in the Burrator Arboretum

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