The Woodland Trust launched an appeal in autumn 2019 to raise £1m to take on part of Ausewell in Dartmoor, Devon. It will now join the National Trust, who owns the other part of the site, in managing this important wildlife refuge.
Woodland Trust site manager Dave Rickwood says:
“It’s very exciting that, thanks to the public’s help, we can complete the purchase of Ausewell Wood and start working with the National Trust to restore this valuable wildlife habitat. It means we can protect this 342 acre lost world with its rugged woodland, vast heath and damp temperate forest.”
The two charities have plans to carefully manage the non-native conifer areas, allowing nature to recover. This will allow plants and trees from former woodland species to recover and re-colonise the ancient woodland areas, thus supporting a range of climate threatened wildlife.
Wildlife monitoring has already taken place to help shape the management and gain an understanding of how climate change is having an effect.
Alex Raeder, National Trust’s south west conservation manager, said:
“The National Trust is delighted to be working again with the Woodland Trust to secure the future of our finest wooded habitats. This is more important than ever in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. Ausewell Wood is an astonishingly beautiful place and the mix of heathland and wooded habitats provide homes for redstarts and places for rare lichens to thrive.”
“We will be creating some access into the woods, which until now has not formally existed, so that people can discover Ausewell’s natural beauty for themselves. Routes will be low-key to help look after the wildlife that everyone values so highly.”
Alex added: “Ausewell exemplifies the importance of the Dart Valley for nature and through our joint care of this place with the Woodland Trust, we intend to make it even better in future.”
The National Trust secured part of the purchase of the site through gifts in wills whilst the Woodland Trust raised its share through a public appeal. With the purchase sealed, the organisations are now concentrating their efforts on raising the extra £1.5m to protect and restore the site.
Ausewell will open to the public later this year once the purchase has completed and initial access work has taken place. As a refuge for nature, Ausewell will be a place for people to enjoy in an unobtrusive way.