Where legacies have made a difference to Devon’s wildlife

A lake at Meeth Quarry nature reserve with scrub aroundMeeth Quarry DWT nature reserve

Marsland nature reserve, North Devon

Orchids in front of lake at Meeth by Andrew Taylor

On the northern border of Devon and Cornwall, the stunning Marsland nature reserve encompasses wooded valley, heath, grassland, meadows, streams and ponds. It’s home to some amazing wildlife including rare fritillary butterflies, otters, woodpeckers and ancient oak trees.

So much of this kind of landscape has been lost in the last 100 years, but Marsland remains secure today as a nature reserve thanks to the legacy of one man, Mr Frank Morton.

Frank was a local. He loved Marsland and wanted to make sure it was looked after for wildlife and future generations.

Thanks to his generous gift, we were able employ a nature reserves officer to manage the site and safeguard its wildlife for the long term.Today a special corner of the nature reserve is known as Frank’s field to honour his wonderful legacy.


Woodah Farm

Woodah courtyardWoodah Farm clings to the sides of the steep-sided Teign Valley on the very edge of Dartmoor. It was left to us by local man Derrick Taylor, a local farmer and Devon Wildlife Trust volunteer.

Woodah Farm has allowed us to transform the way we care for our nature reserves. It is has become the hub of our nature reserve team and home to their tractors, machinery and other kit which is vital in the everyday job of keeping 50 nature reserves in top condition.

Woodah has also become a centre for rural skills. We use its hedges, woods and fields to teach others in the skills of traditional, wildlife friendly land management, such as hedge laying and stone walling.

In 2013 another legacy, this time from local Dartmoor resident, Phoebe-Wortley Talbot, opened the next chapter in the Woodah Farm story. Improved access, the transformation of rundown barns into workshops and classrooms – the legacy allowed us to make the farm a first-class facility for teaching rural skills and the next generations of land managers.

Opening the way

Legacies don’t need to be big to make a big difference.

In 2015 we received £5,000 as part of the legacy of a Devon Wildlife Trust supporter. The gift coincided with our plans to improve public access at one of our most-popular nature reserves, Bystock Pools, near Exmouth.

We used the gift and work with local volunteers to lay down a locally sourced stone surface along well-used paths. The work transformed muddy areas, improving access for thousands of visitors.

Every legacy – big or small - will make a positive difference to Devon’s wildlife.

Take the next step by finding out more about leagacy giving here.