3,000 trees and a couple of hedgebanks later ...

Torbay Weekly

The National Trust and a team of volunteers have been working on a massive tree-planting project in South Devon.

They have been working hard at Southdown Farm near Salcombe on various projects to increase the value of the area for wildlife.

The team have been planting up over one kilometre of new hedgebanks with shrubs and also planting trees around sheltered corners of fields. The new hedges have created smaller, more sheltered fields on the exposed coastal farm, this will mean better habitat for foraging insects and birds such as Whitethroat and Yellowhammer. With over 3,000 new trees and shrubs planted on the farm it’s been a busy winter.

There have also been new wetland habitats created - called ‘scrapes’ - and will provide foraging for birds as well as fantastic places for amphibians, dragonflies and damselflies, amongst many other invertebrates.

The farmer has been grazing the area with a mix of cattle and sheep, with sheep taken off in spring to allow the wildflowers to flourish. This work is really paying off with reduced areas of scrub and more grasslands full of different flowers such as spring squill, tormentil and birds foot trefoil.

Ranger Emma Reece said: "A £2,000 donation from a local company Mole Energy combined with a grant from Natural England have enabled us to make significant improvements. We’ll be out this summer closely monitoring the impact of the work and we hope to see an increase in farmland birds such as yellowhammers, and insects such as butterflies, bees and dragonflies benefiting from the wildflowers and new wetland areas."

David Stevenson, Managing Director at Mole Energy, said: "There’s a natural synergy between our organisations in our focus on supporting the environment. We’re seeing more and more people come to us to do their bit towards sustainability, by installing solar PV and battery storage. We wanted to find a way of supporting their efforts - and so for every solar PV, battery and electric vehicle charger installed by us, Mole Energy donates to the National Trust’s conservation project in South Devon."