Understanding Dartmoor’s woodlands

At this time of year the suggestion that a bunch of naturalists should spend time indoors is usually met with derision. Why be inside when you can be out and about watching Spring burst into action. So it was with a little trepidation that we decided to hold our first Woodland Festival Lectures programme at the National Park headquarters at Parke on Saturday right in the middle of the season.

We needn’t have worried. There was a real appetite to find out more about all the research that goes on. With three weeks to go the event was fully booked with a waiting list for those who couldn’t fit in.

This was a chance to celebrate the wildlife in and around Dartmoor’s woodlands and all the work that is undertaken by teams of volunteers putting in countless hours of work to help broaden our understanding of many woodland species.

East Dartmoor NNR was a natural place to focus on as it is at the heart of many research projects. National Nature Reserves have always been a place for research helping researchers, scientists and ecologists build a better understanding of our native wildlife. Yarner Wood, part of the East Dartmoor NNR was the first site to be designated in England way back in 1952. Since then it has been the site for many long term research projects including the Pied Flycatcher nest box monitoring scheme.

As part of her training Sarah our Conservation Assistant Trainee took the lead in organising the day inviting local researchers using East Dartmoor NNR and further across Dartmoor to speak and share the results of some of their work.

The Woodland Festival Lectures was a day for volunteer recorders, people with an interest in wildlife and academics to come together and look up from their own areas of interest and see the bigger picture. The format of the day was based on short twenty minute talks which allowed us to present nine different speakers showing just how much work is going on between different partners and organisations. The day was fuelled with plenty of tea and coffee and a buffet lunch from Home Farm Café.

There were some fantastic presentations highlighting how much is being done to understand our wildlife. What came across was the tremendous effort that everyone puts in collecting the raw field data but that this is only part of the story and how this data is then used to broaden our knowledge. A common theme throughout the day was a call for all of us to work harder to strengthen our connections and look beyond our own boundaries to make best use of habitats.

Feedback from the day has been really good from presenters and attendees

“A very good diverse range of subjects”

“Enjoyed all talks and found it very informative”

“Very useful day. Exceeded expectations”

“Hope there are more”

“An excellent mix of talks”

“Very interesting mix…good for making contacts”

80% of those who responded said that the day had inspired them to get more involved in Dartmoor’s wildlife

A big thank you to all those people who gave up their time to present at the Woodland Festival Lectures and to all those who attended.

If you feel inspired to get more involved then why not try out one of our workshops.

Sun 7th May Woodland Festival Workshop: A Beginners guide to the Dawn Chorus with RSPB

Thurs 11th May Woodland Festival Workshop: Pearl Bordered Fritillary Butterfly ID skills with Butterfly Conservation.

Thurs 18th May Woodland Festival Workshop: A Naturalists Guide to the Oak tree with CREST Devon

Sat 20th May Woodland Festival Families: Minibeasts and River Dipping

Tues 23rd May Woodland Festival Workshop: A Naturalists Guide to Soil Biodiversity with Natural England

Sat 27th May-Sun 4th Jun Woodland Festival Families: Wildlife Explorer Trail



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