North Devon Focus

Culm Advisory Group witnesses progress at grassland demonstration farm
Devon Wildlife Trust this month invited the members of the Culm Advisory Group to see the progress of the restoration of wildflower rich meadows at its Dunsdon Demonstration Farm near Holsworthy. The group which is made up of staff from Natural England, The Environment Agency, Westcountry Rivers Trust, DWT and FWAG spent the morning at the charity's Working Wetlands Project office at Cookworthy discussing the issues that have arisen over the past six months relating to the management of Culm grassland in North Devon. In the afternoon the group was taken to the demonstration farm where they were able to witness the progress of the series of fields which have been restored from improved grassland back to species rich meadows.

The process has been funded by Natural England through the Special Projects scheme within Higher Level Stewardship and has included all the new fencing, gates and hedgebanks that have also been re-created. Devon Wildlife Trust's Becky Aston, who has been overseeing the project, said: "It was great to be able to show off the Working Wetlands demonstration farm which has been coming on leaps as bounds since we did the initial soil testing and stripping back in 2008. This was the ideal time to bring members of the various agencies that have an interest in Culm grassland to show how the pioneering techniques have been employed at the site which is owned by a local landowner. The site was chosen as it lies between two sections of DWT's Dunsdon National Nature reserve and the work will help rare species moves through the area making it more robust.

Following the soil stripping we sowed a range of wildflowers and grasses including oxeye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil and ragged robin and we have been pleased with the range of species that have flowered this year." One of the group which attended the day, Rob Dixon from Natural England said: "We were all very impressed with how the sown sward has taken - a great improvement on what was there before. This is a good example of what can be achieved through Higher Level Stewardship, with our two organisations working together and with a committed agreement holder who is keen to improve the environmental value of his holding in this very important area.

" Working Wetlands has been supported by the Tubney Charitable Trust, South West Water, The Environment Agency, Devon County Council, Devon Waste Management, Grantscape and Natural England. Photo: Dunsdon demonstration farm copyright DWT Culm Advisory Group witnesses progress at grassland demonstration farm (Ref: DWT 13 July 2010)