Woodah: Devon’s ‘wilder farm’
Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT), a DCE partner, are testing land management techniques to help tackle the climate and ecological emergency on Woodah Farm, located on the edge of Dartmoor. DWT are looking at the balance between conservation management and carbon sequestration and soil recovery on the farm.
Since the Trust took on ownership of Woodah Farm, near Doddiscombleigh, in 2009 the Trust has restored several areas for nature, alongside managing the site as a working farm. The charity’s approach will build on these foundations and see a step change for wildlife and carbon sequestration. The Wilder Woodah project will see large areas of the farm returned to ‘natural processes’ to allow its soils to recover. This will mean greatly reducing levels of grazing animals, while also planting 8,000 trees, with many more encouraged to grow through natural regeneration, and erecting temporary ‘exclosures’ to protect the growing saplings from the attentions of local deer.
The work at Woodah Farm has already begun. Deer exclosures have been installed to protect existing and newly planted woodland. Meanwhile, volunteers led by staff from Devon Biodiversity Records Centre are spending the summer conducting a series of wildlife surveys which will allow them to track the impact for nature of changes to the farm’s management. Experts from the University of Exeter, another DCE partner, will also help reveal other major changes that will occur on the farm. As the numbers of cattle grazing the farm’s fields is reduced, the researchers’ job will be to look at alterations in vegetation cover and type, in soil structure and carbon, in earthworm numbers and in levels of key nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
To find out more head to the Devon Wildlife Trust website.
How is this helping Devon reach net-zero?
Goal 11.5: Restore and enhance habitats and soils so that they fulfil their natural potential for Carbon Sequestration and storage
Goal 11.6: Farmers and other land managers are aware of the options available for helping meet net-zero on their land
Goal 11.7: Farmers and land managers have access to impartial advice or demonstration models