Nature reserve sees moor improvements

Bellever Moor and Meadows

A much-loved Dartmoor’s nature reserve has undergone vital conservation work which will benefit its precious wildlife.
New fence beside road at Ballever nature reserve

New fencing will mean better controls on grazing and more wildflowers at Bellever Moor & Meadows

Bellever Moor and Meadows nature reserve is 70 hectares of moorland and traditional hay meadows close to the Dartmoor village of Postbridge. It is managed by Devon Wildlife Trust. Now the conservation charity has revealed that over recent months it has been making some important improvements to the nature haven.

These improvements have centred on the removal of old and dilapidated fencing and its replacement with 3km of new livestock-proof fencing. The work, which used local contractors to complete, was made possible after Devon Wildlife Trust secured £16,374 of support from Viridor Credits Environmental Company, through its Pennon Environmental Fund. This funding is from the Landfill Communities Fund, which since 1997 has provided £1.7 billion of support to environmental and community projects across the UK.

Explaining the impact the new fencing work will make, Matt Boydell, Devon Wildlife Trust’s Nature Reserves Manager, said:

“Support from Viridor Credits has meant we have been able to use a specialist contractor to complete the removal of old, deteriorated livestock fencing and replace it across five compartments of the reserve. The new fencing will allow us to better manage grazing cattle, a crucial factor in our efforts to restore 36 hectares of beautiful wildflower meadows on just over half of the site.”  

97% of the nation’s wildflower meadows have been lost since the end of the Second World War. With their loss a wide range of wildlife has declined too, including meadow-specialist species such as marbled white and meadow brown butterflies, along with plants including orchids, eyebright, red bartsia, tormentil and yellow rattle. The work undertaken by Devon Wildlife Trust will see these and other species return in greater numbers.  

The nature reserve also occupies an important strategic position on Dartmoor. Sitting between Postbridge and Dartmeet it has been designated a ‘Key Wildlife Area’ by Dartmoor National Park Authority for the conservation, creation and restoration of traditional hay meadows.

Devon Wildlife Trust Matt Boydell said:

“This funding from Viridor Credits has allowed us to target improvements to areas of the nature reserve with the lowest wildlife interest. New stockproof fencing will allow us to properly regulate when and how much grazing can take place. In turn this will enable us to transform these parts of this beautiful place into wildflower meadows, helping the landscape-scale restoration of one of Dartmoor’s most attractive habitats.”

Gareth Williams, Operations Manager at Viridor Credits, said “this project served the dual purpose of protecting a rare and declining habitat whilst providing a beautiful landscape for visitors to Dartmoor. The work of Devon Wildlife Trust is vital in protecting our natural environment for our children.”

Bellever Moor and Meadows is one of 58 nature reserves managed by Devon Wildlife Trust. The charity’s reserves remain open to visitors during the current Covid-19 restrictions. Plan your next visit here.