South West-based native woodland charity, Moor Trees, has unveiled its new vision for Dartmoor. The vision is of a landscape with restored woodland and scrub spreading up from the valleys, creating a more varied mix of habitats in which wildlife can flourish. It has been illustrated by noted Devon naturalist and wildlife artist, Mike Langman.
Moor Trees director, Adam Owen, said: “Now that dramatic biodiversity loss and rapid climate change are widely accepted as genuine crises requiring urgent action, Dartmoor’s wide open spaces, along with those of Britain’s other upland National Parks, present a unique opportunity for us to respond – immediately. Trees not only absorb carbon in the long term, but in the shorter term can reduce the damage done by increasingly frequent severe rainfall events, preventing soil erosion and lowering the risk of flooding in downstream communities.”
Dartmoor National Park estimates that only around 12% of the Moor is covered with trees, and a substantial proportion of that is non-native commercial conifer plantations of little value to wildlife. Much of the landscape is now dominated by grassland, supporting low numbers of a limited range of insect, reptile, bird and mammal species. Introducing more native broadleaved trees in appropriate areas, especially river valleys, would create wildlife “corridors” and increase the variety of habitats, conditions needed for the return of long-lost native birds and animals. The Moor Trees Vision illustration shows just a few of these iconic species.
The key role of grazing livestock in maintaining this diversity is specifically included in the Vision, which is not a blueprint for a wholesale “rewilding” of this much-loved National Park in which sweeping views from craggy hill-top tors are an essential part of its charm.
Adam Owen continued: “Our Vision is by no means just about trees. It shows how woodland fits into a diverse landscape in which grassland, scrub, heath, blanket bog and mires all play a vital role. We hope it will inspire landowners, Commoners, the National Park and the government to work together towards a shared goal in which nature and people can flourish together. With over 20 years’ experience of creating native Devon woodlands and two nurseries raising trees from locally-collected seed, Moor Trees is here to help in any way it can.”