Astonishing Ancient Woodland

A PhD researcher from the University of Reading has selected a local Woodland Trust site to collect some samples for laboratory analysis. She is investigating the crucial link between oak trees and the nutrient exchange facilitated by the tiny mycorrhizal fungus attached to the trees’ roots. As she spends the summer collecting samples across Britain, Matt Parkins reports on her recent visit to Grey Park Wood on Dartmoor… When you quietly walk through an ancient oak wood, taking in theRead more

My Lichen Summer School

Visitors might be drawn in by the birds, bats and butterflies, or even the possibility of seeing an elusive otter, but the Bovey Valley, in the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve is also renowned for its more unassuming residents, an internationally renowned lichen population. Lichens are a symbiotic relationship between a fungus, and at least one photosynthetic partner, usually an alga. They can colonise almost anywhere, but it’s the tree-dwellers which are attracting the attention of conservationists, as part ofRead more

Surveying Butterflies – A Report from the Field

From 1st April to 30th September every year, volunteers all over the country conduct a Butterfly Transect study on a weekly basis. What is that you may well ask?  Well, in simple terms, its a weekly recording of butterfly numbers and species within a defined area, which has to be repeated exactly.  The records produced are sent to the United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS), from which numbers and trends in number of UK butterflies can be analysed on aRead more

Soils go live at East Dartmoor NNR!

As many of us know, there is more to soil than meets the eye – and indeed, the answer really does lie in the soil.  The soils in the East Dartmoor area have been evolving for several thousand years. During the last Ice Age, this landscape was not glaciated, but tundra conditions prevailed and more recently, human influences, through land use changes have altered the soils. This is a perfect place to explore how soils vary across the landscape. WithRead more

The Water of Life

After a night of heavy rain, yet another Dartmoor deluge, I’m waiting in the Postbridge car park to meet David Leach. He is the Dartmoor Peatland Restoration Project Officer and, after introductions, we get kitted up for a two-mile trudge in full waterproofs to check on the progress of the South West Peatland Project, a habitat restoration project covering Dartmoor and the uplands of Exmoor and Bodmin Moor too. Our journey begins with a typically wintry walk, but conversation isRead more

Transforming the Reservoir – Work Completed!

Starting work in December, a small team have been busy installing floating rafts, planting willow and felling trees around the reservoir in Yarner Wood. The reservoir has been transformed from the straight edged concrete pool that was once uninviting to people and wildlife. This is an overview of the management work that has taken place in this watery corner of the National Nature Reserve. American signal crayfish surveys – good news!As mentioned in the previous blog, the focus in autumnRead more