Life in the Canopy

Since its designation in the 1950’s the diverse habitats and wildlife of East Dartmoor NNR have been studied by scientists with an interest in ecology.  But to study life in the canopy, takes both a strong head for heights and some highly specialised equipment. However a team at Plymouth University have become highly skilled at working in this challenging environment. Each year Biological and Environmental Science students from Plymouth University, visit the tropical forests of Borneo, to study the highRead more

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 toRead more

Sun, Trees, Tools and Tall Tales

You can’t organise the sun, but if we could, we couldn’t have planned it any better. On the 25th March we had the sun, we had warmth and we had lots of people having fun and learning about how and why we manage our woods (in the past and in the present). Down in the glade – where the sun kept everyone warm – there was a lovely relaxed atmosphere whilst people ate their picnics and took part in variousRead more

Take Shelter in Yarner Wood

For the wildlife of Dartmoor, Yarner Woods provides essential shelter from the extremes of the moorland weather, the swirling wind, thunderous storms and even the occasional blazing sun. The grand oaks of this nature reserve withstand the regular pressures thrown at them from the Atlantic weather systems and maintain a calm and safe hideout for the wild residents. But for those sensitive creatures that need a little more protection, a new wooden shelter has just been built among the oakRead more

The River of Life: Family fun in the sun

Winding its way downstream from East Dartmoor, the River Bovey and all the life within it flows through Parke, where this week’s River of Life picnic was held. Glorious sunshine welcomed families who strolled in to join Moor than meets the eye and Woodland Trust rangers. Greeted by more of the team from Natural England and the National Trust, adults and children alike were drawn into a plethora of activities. One group headed off river dipping, where Fred from the National Trust showed everyoneRead more

Canopy science

When was the last time you climbed a tree?  I expect the last time for most of us was as children – climbing the biggest tree in our garden or in the local park.  So when I heard that some students from Plymouth University would be climbing up into the oak canopy at Yarner Wood to study the diversity of life there, I had to find out more. When I spoke with the tutors from Plymouth University I learnt that they were no strangersRead more

Local Food Links – Getting to the Root of the Matter

Healthy lifestyles and fresh food are an important part of life at Okehampton Primary School and many of the messages the children are learning have a local flavour too. Each of the classes throughout the school has access to a vegetable growing area where they can get a hands-on experience of producing their own fresh herbs and vegetables. The staff at the school are also focussed on showing the children how home grown food can be nutritious, but the raisedRead more

The King of Lichens

On a bright spring morning a group of people gathered in an old farmyard. Dressed to keep out the Dartmoor breeze and equipped with small hand lenses they set off along one of the many ancient walled tracks that cross the landscape around the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve. Within minutes the sky had darkened and the group huddled against a barn wall until the April shower had delivered its payload of sleet, revealing another pleasant blue sky. This wasRead more

Sunny Side Up – part 10 of the Barbastelle Tracking Diary

A team of Woodland Trust and Natural England volunteers were back in action at the Bovey Valley Woods at the weekend. Their task on a bright spring day was to finish off hanging a set of bat roosting boxes in the trees along the Old Manaton Road. 40 boxes were already in place in Hisley Wood and along the river Bovey at Rudge Meadow, but this time, another 40 boxes were destined to be placed further along the Becka Brook.Read more

Muir on the Moor: Forest School for College Students

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir Exeter College Apex students recently discovered, debated, tested and explored this concept in great detail when they embarked on a programme of Forest School sessions. Having already been volunteering and gaining work experience at East Dartmoor over the winter, they decided to look at the Reserve in greater depth and take on new and exciting challenges. The JohnRead more