Thursday, 31 May 2018

Charity appoints new top role

A former Director of Conservation at Dartmoor National Park has been elected to a top role at one of Devon’s leading charities.

Suzanne (Sue) Goodfellow, who describes herself as an ‘ecologist and all-round environmentalist’ is the new Chair of Trustees of Devon Wildlife Trust. She will head the charity’s Board of Trustees, the body which determines the Trust’s strategic direction. As with all the charity’s trustee board members, this position is an unpaid, voluntary one.

Sue has been a member of Devon Wildlife Trust’s Board of Trustees since 2013 and a member of the charity, which has more than 32,000 supporters, since 1978. Her career saw her spend 30 years at Dartmoor National Park Authority working as an ecologist, a landscape conservation officer and then as its Director of Conservation. In recent years she has been Chair of Devon Local Nature Partnership, the umbrella organisation which works to bring together everyone with an interest in securing the benefits of Devon’s natural environment.

Sue said:

“I am delighted to be in a position to support the trustees, staff, volunteers and members of this amazingly vibrant charity which is making such a difference to Devon’s wildlife. I am passionate about making space for the other species with which we share our wonderful county and bringing people closer to wildlife for their mutual benefit. The Devon Wildlife Trust really stands up for wildlife and is an effective campaigning organisation as well as owning beautiful, restful reserves for us all to enjoy. I look forward to helping the Trust deliver new exciting projects such as Seaton Jurassic, Exeter Valley Parks and the Greater Horseshoe Bat Project.”

Sue replaces Dr Peta Foxall who has moved to become Chair of The Wildlife Trusts, the national body which helps coordinate the 46 county Trusts, of which Devon Wildlife Trust is one.

The appointment sees Sue lead the charity’s 17-strong Board of Trustees at a time in which the charity is engaged in some of its biggest ever projects and campaigns for local wildlife which include beavers, bats and marine wildlife.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive, Harry Barton, welcomed the appointment and said:

“Sue is a great people person, she is passionate about the environment and her knowledge of Devon is truly impressive. She and I have worked closely together for several years on the Devon Local Nature Partnership, which she led with great skill and tact. I’m really looking forward to working with her at DWT”.

One of Sue’s first tasks will be to help the charity in its efforts to raise extra support for the 50 nature reserves it cares for across the county. The Devon Nature Reserves Fund is being launched by Devon Wildlife Trust this May at a time of year when thousands of people will visit and enjoy the charity’s wildlife havens. People wanting to help are being urged to visit

Devon Wildlife Trust’s new Chair of Trustees, Suzanne Goodfellow
Devon Wildlife Trust’s new Chair of Trustees, Suzanne Goodfellow

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

JUNE HIGHLIGHTS Charity urges us all to take part in ‘random acts of wildness’

A wildlife charity is urging us to take part in what it describes as a series of ‘random acts of wildness’ which it hopes will involve thousands of people throughout the month of June.
Devon Wildlife Trust is suggesting that people use the month to reconnect with wildlife and the natural world through a campaign known as 30 Days Wild. Now in its fourth year, 30 Days Wild is a nationwide initiative in which more than 250,000 people across the UK took part last year.
Participants in 30 Days Wild sign up for free and in return commit to undertaking a simple random act of wildness each day for a month. This year these acts include searching for mini-beasts in your own back garden or park, running/walking barefoot across grass or the beach, and learning to recognise a new birdsong.
For those wanting to take it easy there’s also the more restful suggestion of taking a ‘nap in nature’ where participants are being urged to ‘chill out & take a nap in the long grass; while the birds and the bees serenade you to sleep.’
Devon Wildlife Trust’s Steve Hussey, said:
“The idea behind 30 Days Wild is to get us all to take a bit of time out of our busy lives to engage with nature. A growing amount of research, along with our own common sense, tells us that being out of doors and in the natural world is good for our physical and mental health.
30 Days Wild is there to help us make time to go wild. Many of its random acts of wildness are aimed at families. We know parents often struggle to get children away from their screens and into the fresh air. But the campaign is also a chance for everyone to go a little bit wilder this June.”
30 Days Wild is free to take part in. Participants receive a pack with wallchart, stickers and lots of suggestions for ‘going wild’. People can sign up on-line at and is open to individuals, couples, families, schools and even businesses.
Steve Hussey, said:
“In the past we’ve had great take up from people undertaking 30 Days Wild with their schools, in their offices and as families. People seem to like the fact that it’s easy to do, is free and that it gets them out of doors to enjoy the wonderful Devon’s natural riches.”
Devon Wildlife Trust is staging its own 30 Days Wild event in the middle of the month. The 30 Days Wild Big Family Fun day is being held on Saturday 16 June between 11am and 3pm at Exeter’s Mincinglake Valley Park. Visitors to the event are promised a range of wild activities, including bug hunting, storytelling, wild craft and much more.
#30DaysWild. Charity urges us all to take part in ‘random acts of wildness’

Monday, 21 May 2018

Clovelly Lectures: 100 Years of the Royal Air Force.

Clovelly Lectures mark the Royal Air Force Centenary on Saturday June 9th. Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns GCB, KCVO, CBE, FRAeS will be speaking on 100 years of the Royal Air Force 1918 - 2018 "British Air Power"

Sir Richard is a retired senior Royal Air Force commander. A great Air Force hero who also taught the Prince of Wales to fly. He was a fighter pilot in the 1960s, Commanding officer of a Squadron during the 1970s and a Station Commander in the 1980s. Sir Richard served as one of three British Directors of Operations on the Senior Planning Staff for "Operation Granby" (the British contribution to the Gulf War) in 1991 and then acted as a Supporting Commander for Joint Operations in the Balkans in 1994. As Chief of the Air Staff he advised the British Government on the Air Force aspects of the Strategic Defence Review and on NATO's Air Campaign in Kosovo. In April 2000 he was appointed by The Queen as Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle until 2008.

Saturday June 9th 2018
100 years of THE ROYAL AIR FORCE
1918 - 2018
"British Air Power."
Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns GCB, KCVO, CBE, FRAeS
For tickets and further information please contact:
Tel: 01237 431200

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Beavers do dam good work cleaning water, research reveals

Beavers could help clean up polluted rivers and stem the loss of valuable soils from farms, new research shows.
The study, undertaken by scientists at the University of Exeter using a captive beaver trial run by the Devon Wildlife Trust, has demonstrated the significant impact the animals have had on reducing the flow of tonnes of soil and nutrients from nearby fields into a local river system.
The research, led by hydrologist Professor Richard Brazier, found that the work of a single family of beavers had removed high levels of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus from the water that flowed through their 2.5 hectare enclosure.
The family of beavers, which have lived in fenced site at a secret location in West Devon since 2011, have built 13 dams, slowing the flow of water and creating a series of deep ponds along the course of what was once a small stream.
Researchers measured the amount of sediment suspended, phosphorus and nitrogen in water running into the site and then compared this to water as it ran out of the site having passed through the beavers’ ponds and dams. They also measured the amount of sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen trapped by the dams in each of the ponds.
Their results showed the dams had trapped more than 100 tonnes of sediment, 70% of which was soil, which had eroded from ‘intensively managed grassland’ fields upstream. Further investigation revealed that this sediment contained high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, which are nutrients known to create problems for the wildlife in rivers and streams and which also need to be removed from human water supplies to meet drinking-quality standards.
The research was funded by Westland Countryside Stewards and the Natural Environment Research Council and conducted by a team from the University of Exeter led by Professor of Earth Surface Processes, Richard Brazier. Professor Brazier said:
“It is of serious concern that we observe such high rates of soil loss from agricultural land, which are well in excess of soil formation rates. However, we are heartened to discover that beaver dams can go a long way to mitigate this soil loss and also trap pollutants which lead to the degradation of our water bodies. Were beaver dams to be commonplace in the landscape we would no doubt see these effects delivering multiple benefits across whole ecosystems, as they do elsewhere around the world.”
The research findings about beavers’ positive impact on soil erosion losses and pollution in water courses come at a time of growing concern about these issues. In 2009 a separate study estimated that the total cost of soil loss from the UK’s agricultural land was £45million, much of which was due to the impacts of sediment and nutrient pollution downstream.
Devon Wildlife Trust has been conducting its enclosed beaver trial for seven years, while since 2015 it has also been running another beaver project involving a population of wild-living beavers on the River Otter, East Devon. The charity’s Director of Conservation and Development, Peter Burgess said:
“Our partnership with Exeter University working on both our fenced and unfenced beaver trials is revealing information which shows the critical role beavers can play, not only for wildlife, but the future sustainability of our land and water. It is truly inspiring to have our observations confirmed by detailed scientific investigations.”
The research, ‘Sediment and Nutrient Storage in a Beaver Engineered Wetland’ is published in the academic journal, Earth Processes and Landforms. It is available to read on-line at
Devon Wildlife Trust. Beavers do dam good work cleaning water, research reveals. Photo copyright Michael Symes Devon Wildlife Trust (All rights reserved)
One of the Devon Beavers. Photo copyright Michael Symes Devon Wildlife Trust (All rights reserved)

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Endangered plant discovered for first time in 40 years on a farm in North Devon

A rare and endangered plant has been discovered on a farm in North Devon.
The plant, known as Three-lobed Water-crowfoot, was discovered by the conservation charity, Devon Wildlife Trust, on a routine survey of a farm near Dunsdon, Holsworthy. Its exact location is being kept a secret.
The plant is classed as ‘endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation Nature and appears on its ‘red-list’.
It is thought that this is the first record of the plant, which is a member of the buttercup family, in Devon for 40 years.
The Three-lobed Water-crowfoot plant, which lives in wet ground, was spotted by Devon Wildlife Trust’s Kate Langdon.
Kate is part of Devon Wildlife Trust’s Working Wetlands team, Kate said:
“For many years I have been on the lookout for this rare plant and always make a point of checking wet gateways, small pools and old vehicle ruts (all places the plant favours) in the vain hope I would find. And there it was in-front of my eyes, it really was a heart-stopping moment. I couldn’t believe it, all those years of searching had finally paid off. I was thrilled to bits.”
Kate was taking part in a survey of local Culm grasslands being undertaken by the charity’s Upstream Thinking project. The project works with local landowners to help improve water for local people and wildlife.
Devon Willife Trust - Three-lobed water crowfoot (small round leaved plant in picture). Photo copyright Kate Langdon (All rights reserved)
Three-lobed water crowfoot (small round leaved plant in picture). Photo copyright Kate Langdon (All rights reserved)