Landowners working together in the Torridge Headwaters

Culm grassland at Volehouse Moor

Support for landowners to improve their local environment

Devon RedsBuilding upon the success of the first phase of the Northern Devon NIA project, an exciting initiative is evolving in the headwaters of the River Torridge.

Since July 2015, the Torridge Headwaters Project has been part of the Government’s agri-environment programme, funded through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme’s Facilitation Fund. 

Until 2020 this project will provide advice and support to landowners across the area, encouraging them to work more closely together, share skills and knowledge and undertake sensitive management to improve the natural environment across their land holdings.

Landowners working more closely together can deliver real environment benefits across the landscape, adding value to farming systems and providing wider benefits for society. 

A wildlife-rich landscape

Marsh fritillary butterfly on grassOverlying the Culm Measures, the headwaters of the River Torridge support a dynamic yet challenging working landscape.

The area is rich in special habitats & species (such as Culm grassland, which holds back flood water, and the rare marsh fritillary butterfly) and important for its historic & cultural landscape (the bronze age burial mounds and network of Devon hedges). However, intensive land use and changing land management priorities are putting pressure on these fragile features and systems.

This project will help landowners reconnect to the environment, providing them with the opportunity to look beyond their farm boundaries and explore ways to manage, restore or create key habitats to link up and provide corridors for species to move more widely through the landscape.

Our key habitats and areas of focus include:

  • Purple moor grass & rush pasture (Culm grassland), neutral hay meadows, ancient & native woodlands, riparian habitats and hedgerows
  • Improve water quality (through on farm measures) and reduce flood risk through creation/restoration of Culm grassland & woodland to hold/slow water
  • Protect and sensitively manage key historic features
  • Build up resilience to climate change

The landowner group

Hedgelaying workshopWe have a fantastic and enthusiastic bunch of landowners participating in the project ranging from smallholders, organic farming systems, beef and sheep farmers to large dairy enterprises.

Landowners are invited to free events and workshops delivered by specialist partners to provide advice, support and on information on grants available to assist with environmental issues relating to land management in this area.

Topics are wide ranging from traditional techniques such as hedge laying and swaling (controlled burning), to issues relating to manure and soil management, looking for opportunities to work with nature and save money for their business.


Support from specialist advisors 

This project is part of the Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area landscape scale programme. Other organisations in the project include:

Devon Hedge Group logo  

Project newsletters

Click here to view the Torridge Headwaters February 2017 newsletter. 

Get in touch

Matthew Holden, NIA Advisory Officer
Devon Wildlife Trust
01409 221823/ 07909 252527

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas. This project has received European Union funding under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme’s Facilitation Fund. Find out more here