Friday, 17 June 2011

Charity gets kit for frits

A leading South West conservation charity has this month been testing out its new machinery which is set to help boost the fortunes of a number of fritillary butterfly species on Dartmoor. Last year Devon Wildlife Trust was awarded money by Viridor Credits Environmental Company, through the Landfill Communities Fund and has purchased a new alpine tractor and two quad bikes to help with its conservation work. The new kit will be used at four of the charity's key nature reserves: Blackadon, Dart Valley, Dunsford and Emsworthy on Dartmoor. The low ground pressure alpine tractor is specially designed for safe use on steep slopes like those found in Dartmoor's valleys. The quad bikes will be used in width-restricted areas that the tractor is unable to access. This equipment will enable DWT's reserves staff to better manage the sites for these rare and threatened species. The Pasquali alpine tractor's small wide wheels and low centre of gravity make it safe to use on the Dartmoor valleys' steep slopes, and it even bends in the middle to help it negotiate boulders. All the vehicles will be used to cut and collect bracken, which is a key task in managing land for the endangered fritillaries' recovery. Matt Boydell, DWT's Land Management Manager said: "This is a significant boost for us and will help us manage these more difficult sites and create and expand the habitats which these butterflies thrive on. The project focuses on the management of south facing bracken slopes, increasing spring-flowering plant species including violets and bugle which are the food plants of the larvae and adults of rare fritillary butterflies such as the pearl- and small-pearl bordered. To get this equipment in place will help us greatly in our management this year and for many years to come." For more information about the project visit
Reserves. Assistant Andrew Warren tries out DWT's new quad bike

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


The launch of the Government's Natural Environment White Paper today has been welcomed by the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT). However the charity has cautioned that its encouraging words now need to be followed by urgent action. DWT Director Paul Gompertz said: "For decades now, governments everywhere have been long on promises and short on action when it comes to maintaining the diversity of life on the planet. There is a real danger that this is just another set of fine words paving the way to a looming breakdown of natural systems."We welcome much of the content of today's Natural Environment White Paper and are pleased to see such a broad spectrum of proposed action, but we're reminded of the Marine Act which offered fantastic promises but remains to prove itself in the implementation." The commitment to be 'the first generation to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than it inherited' is obviously laudable. However, this country made the same commitment ten years ago, and failed. Since then 30% cuts have been made to the Department which might be expected to lead on this. And the document still insists that 'economic growth and the natural environment are mutually compatible', even though we live in a planet which is consuming at three times the rate nature can provide. Paul added: "This is more Vision document than White Paper, since it doesn't propose any significant legislation. Visions are easy on the Treasury. The principles are all sound - the document speaks the right language - but these worthy aspirations now need to be translated into urgent and substantial gains for Devon's wildlife and wild places."

Monday, 6 June 2011

Barnstaple comes alive for Wildlife Festival

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) held its annual Wildlife Festival in Barnstaple on Saturday as part of the 13th North Devon Festival. It was the charity's fifth annual Wildlife Festival and ran between 10am and 4pm. The event featured many wildlife-themed exhibits and activities aimed at keeping families entertained. It began with a parade through the High Street with a samba band and giant bug stilt walkers, all led by the Mayor of the town who brought the parade to the Square and officially opened the event. Jo Pullin, DWT's event organiser said: "This year's event was a real success with over 3,000 people attending. We had Vintage Mobile Cinema showing wildlife films and over 100 nest boxes were made, which is always a firm favourite at our festivals. We would like to thank all the volunteers who help make the event possible and luckily the weather held off despite a short shower in the afternoon. Look out for us at a town near you next year!" This year's event was generously sponsored by BID Barnstaple, The Bridge Trust and South West Water. Photo: Wildlife Festival Stilt Walkers copyright Devon Wildlife Trust