Engaging with the nature of the Bovey Valley

This project aims to develop volunteering and community participatory activities to engage people with the nature in the Bovey Valley, part of the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve. The overarching aims of the projects developed by NE and WT are to: Future-proof key species, habitats and historic features Foster deeper understanding and life-long interest in the area’s natural and cultural heritage. Embed local communities in all aspects of management.

Engaging with the nature of the Bovey Valley

Dormouse talk

Dormouse walk and talk event at Yarner Wood

Natural England and Woodland Trust respectively own and manage the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve (EDNNR) and woodland in the Bovey Valley. They have developed a joint project which aims to develop volunteering and community participatory activities to engage people with the nature in this area of Dartmoor.

The overarching aim of the project is to:

  • Future-proof key species, habitats and historic features
  • Foster deeper understanding and life-long interest in the area’s natural and cultural heritage.
  • Embed local communities in all aspects of management

To do this a programme of public engagement has been developed to support links with a wide range of people, communities and organisations by:

  • Establishing ongoing, productive relationships with local residents, groups and organisations
  • Investing in priority infrastructure to cater for predicted needs and demands
  • Providing appropriate physical and intellectual access for visitors of all ages, abilities and backgrounds
  • Strengthening learning opportunities for visitors, educational establishments and local communities

Community Volunteer Groups

The project currently has four main volunteering programmes aimed at complementing the ongoing restoration and conservation work of project PA4 Discovering the Nature of the Bovey Valley (see The Wildlife of Dartmoor page).  

Lichen Lovers

Recent surveys have shown that more than 155 species of lichens are under threat from declining light levels as the woodland matures and becomes increasingly dense. The recently completed woodland restoration programme under project PA4 has addressed this issue through deliberate and sensitive management. The volunteer group supports this initiative by helping to survey the Nature Reserve boundaries and neighbouring land to assess lichen populations and their potential for future dispersal, linking in with conservation measures in the wider landscape.

Beard Lichen

Bearded Lichen

Bat Survey

The Barbastelle Bat Study (part of project PA4) runs with ongoing support from a dedicated group of bat volunteers. Although the Bovey Valley is a stronghold for this particular species of bat, very little is known about their seasonal behaviour and landscape requirements. In collaboration with the Woodland Trust, Natural England and the Bat Conservation Trust, volunteers have been invaluable in providing support for the two year long bat tracking and monitoring programme. The results will inform future management decisions as well as the design of ongoing monitoring protocol for Barbastelles and other bat populations in the valley.

Bat Volunteer training

Bat volunteer training

History Hunters

The long history of human occupation in the Bovey Valley is evidenced by a diverse range of historic sites such as: a Bronze Age stone row, Iron Age hill forts, a medieval farmstead, an old copper mine and the Bovey pottery leat. Stage 1 of the project involved volunteers undertaking LiDAR surveys to detect known and new historic features for future investigation.  In April 2017 a week long community archaeological dig took place at the Vinnimore farmstead involving volunteers from both the History Hunters group and from the community of Lustleigh (see the Parishscapes Lustleigh).

History Hunters

History Hunters Volunteer Group

Community Advisory Group

A community advisory group was established during stage 1 of the project to strengthen the community connections and involvement in site management.

Trendlebere Volunteers

Volunteer group at Trendlebere

Wildlife Hit Squad

Not as ferocious as it sounds; the Hit Squad provides support in a variety of tasks around the nature Reserve.

Events An essential aspect of this project is to deliver a programme of events with an emphasis on natural and archaeological heritage. Now in its third successful year, the local community and visitors to Dartmoor have been invited to attend a diverse range of events including large scale family activities. Themes in the past have included:

  • The annual Bovey Beauty Fell Race
  • An annual Festival ( i.e. Festival of Wildlife 2016, Festival of Woodland Lectures 2017)
  • Annual October Lantern Walk event
  • Annual December family event (panto in the woods or similar)
  • Horse logging demonstrations
  • Fungus forays
  • Woodland Survival

For more information on the nature reserve and woodlands please visit the East Dartmoor Woods Blog

Want to know more?

Speak to David Rickwood, Site Manager (Devon), Woodland Trust
Tel: 07827 820637
Email: davidrickwood@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Simon Lee, Senior Reserves Manager (Dartmoor), Natural England
Tel: 01626 831580
Email: simon.lee@naturalengland.org.uk

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Engaging with the nature of the Bovey Valley proforma

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Last update: 06 Apr 2018 3:45pm