The Bovey Valley Woods in Dartmoor are a haven for wildlife. All along the valley, a variety of habitats provide the right conditions where some special species find refuge. This is where the bright, sparkling waters of the River Bovey and Becka Brook converge between the moss-covered trees of ecologically important wet woodlands. Higher up the steep sunlit slopes, patches of ancient woodland stand amid swathes of conifer plantations that cover large areas of the valley. These plantations have been shown to reduce the vitality and diversity of the wild plants and animals. Careful thinning work will give the remnants of wild habitat a chance to regain their place among the dominant conifers. The secret of woodland restoration is to gradually remove he evergreens and increase the levels of sunlight that supports life below the canopy.
With the support of Valencia Communities Fund over recent years, this work has shown that positive change is on the way. Now, wildflowers are reclaiming the slopes and butterflies and beetles are responding to these opportunities, including the blue ground beetle which is only found in a few wooded valleys in this region.
In other areas, the works have given the hazel dormouse a stronghold for survival after stands of conifers have been replaced by the vigorous new growth of native broadleaved woodland. Boosting wild diversity is part of an improving picture at the beautiful Bovey Valley and this work will continue after a successful start.
All photos (C) Paul Moody