New England Wood becomes our 50th nature reserve

Wednesday 1st March 2017

View through nature reserve showing river and treesLooking for a New England? Then welcome to our 50th nature reserve

A woodland which was saved from development has become Devon Wildlife Trust’s 50th nature reserve.

New England Wood covers 50 acres at Lee Mill, half a mile from the A38 and seven miles to the east of Plymouth. Described as a ‘charming, broadleaved woodland’, the new nature reserve also has the River Yealm passing beneath its trees. 

The wildlife haven is Devon Wildlife Trust’s fiftieth nature reserve and joins a list of some of the county’s most precious and spectacular wild places cared for by the charity. Others include Dart Valley and Emsworthy on Dartmoor, Warleigh Point near Plymouth, Dunsford in the Teign Valley, Bystock near Exmouth, and Meeth Quarry and Marsland in North Devon 

First and last

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Steve Hussey said:

"Our first nature reserve was Lady’s Wood, near Ivybridge. It was given to us by the well-known and pioneering Devon naturalist HG Hurrell in 1961. Now we’ve secured our fiftieth in the shape of New England Wood. Despite being separated in time by more than five decades, the two nature reserves are, in fact, only a few miles apart.” 

Matt Boydell Devon Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve manager said:

“We were keen to add New England Wood to our portfolio of wildlife havens because of its strategic position. It’s part of a bigger wildlife rich landscape between two urban centres in Ivybridge and Plymouth. Peregrine falcons nest nearby. To the south is further woodland, and fields. Together these places make a wonderful green space for local people and wildlife.”

Saved from development

New England Wood has an interesting recent history and would have been lost to development if not for the campaigning and generous support of local people. Until recently the area had been owned by an aggregates company who used part of it as a quarry. However when the quarry ceased to operate an application was made for a change of use. If successful, this would have led to the woodland being lost to a new development.

It was then that a determined group of local people known as the New England Woodland Trust stepped in to campaign for a different future for the wildlife haven. Helped by generous individual donations, the Woodland Trust, South Hams District Council, Centrica and the Langage Landscape Fund, the group eventually managed to purchase the site, safeguarding its woodland and its wildlife. The Woodland Trust purchased part of the wood and held it for two years on behalf of the local group until they raised sufficient funds to buy the whole site.

In November 2016 the ownership of New England Wood, with the help of funding by Viridor Credits Environment Company and the Banister Charitable Trust was transferred to Devon Wildlife Trust to ensure its long term management.

John Lockwood, CEO of Viridor Credits, said:

“I am proud that Viridor Credits is part of DWT’s milestone site purchase, cementing our relationship with Devon Wildlife Trust that spans 14 years. Preserving the UK’s biodiversity is a major aim of the Landfill Communities Fund and it is charities like DWT who work hard to deliver that aim with our funding.”

Thanks to them

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Matt Boydell said:

“We wish to thank local people and funders for giving us the opportunity of taking on this beautiful woodland nature reserve. In return we will manage it carefully, nurturing the wildflowers, woodland birds, bats and butterflies which live there. We’ll do our best to ensure that it remains a place which local people can explore and enjoy.”

“Because this is a new site and because we want to respect the wishes of local people, there are no formal trails through or around New England Wood. We are letting people access the nature reserve, but they shouldn’t expect much in the way of visitor infrastructure such as marked paths or signage. In time we will look to improve facilities, but always with the intention of keeping this as a tranquil place.”

Your chance to 'Say YES to Wildlife'

The news of Devon Wildlife Trust’s 50th nature reserve comes at the time when the conservation charity is launching a new campaign in which it is asking people to ‘Say YES to wildlife’. The Trust’s Steve Hussey said:

“We’re contacting around 200,000 households in Devon to ask them to back us in our mission to protect Devon’s wildlife and wild landscapes. Ours is a beautiful county, but nature needs allies at the moment. Our ‘Say YES to wildlife’ campaign is all about giving people a way to show that they care and to demonstrate their support.”

People can find out more about New England Wood and Devon Wildlife Trust’s 50 other nature reserves at the ‘Visit us’ pages of our website.

Tagged with: Devon, Devon Wildlife Trust, Nature reserve, New England Wood, Plymouth, Say Yes to Wildlife