Thanks to Natural England and its predecessors, Yarner Wood is still a forest (well, a wood) on a hill. It still mainly consists of sessile oak woodland with a rowan understory and bilberry field layer, as it was when it was bought 70 years ago and made a National Nature Reserve (NNR) in May 1952. This made it one of the first NNR’s to be declared.
Now Yarner Wood lies within a wider resilient landscape including the addition of Bovey Valley Woodlands (part of which is owned by Natural England and the Woodland Trust), Trendlebere Down (partly owned by Natural England and Dartmoor National Park) and finally Reddaford Down (owned by Natural England). These between them now make up East Dartmoor Woods and Heaths NNR, covering 415 hectares.
Natural England continues partnership working with these organisations, commoners, and private landowners to achieve an integrated approach, safeguarding the special wildlife features found here.
It has not always been this way and Yarner Wood was saved from possible conversion to conifer woodland.
Eden Phillpotts’ 1912 novel ‘The Forest on the Hill’, described in this piece below, drew inspiration from Yarner Wood; the full story of Yarner Wood’s history can be read in the article at the end of this blog.
Yarner Wood and especially the Woodland Centre, (the old produce bay), has been a focal point engaging visitors, special groups, artists and trainees mainly through the Moor Than Meets The Eye landscape project. This project delivered dividends on and off site across a quarter of Dartmoor. The main example in Yarner Wood was providing access and safe viewing of the old open reservoir. (See blog: https://eastdartmoorwoods.org/2019/10/24/reservoir-blogs-no-3/)
We provide space for all our visitors to connect with nature through organised events and quiet recreation on the extensive rights of way network and guided trails. (https://eastdartmoorwoods.org/walking-routes/)
We have also continued the necessary management to maintain the biological and historical interest such as the need to undertake increased amount of holly management and introduce pony grazing.
The reserve is still an open-air laboratory. This collects long term data, some of which were started at its conception. All these findings help us understand the environment it is in.
To mark the 70th Anniversary of Yarner Wood each month we will publish more in-depth blogs about Yarner Wood and all aspects of what we do and why.
To learn more about the history of the Forest on the Hill – download this article below