Category Archives: Exmoor National Park news

HEDGELAYING SKILLS REWARDED

The important work of Exmoor’s hedgelayers has once again been recognised and rewarded through the Exmoor Hedge Competition.

Peter Smith received first place and the ‘Mary Stacey Trophy’ (locally made using beech wood from a laid Exmoor hedge), which was kindly donated by the late Mrs Stacey of Foxhanger Farm, Brompton Regis.  As winner, Peter is also invited to join the judges in deciding the winners of next year’s competition.

Well-laid hedges store more carbon, harbour more wildlife and provide a range of environmental benefits that far outstrip any other method of boundary management. They are also key to the National Park’s landscape, wildlife and farming history and provide employment for numerous skilled craftspeople during the winter months.

In recognition of this valuable work, Exmoor National Park Authority launched the Exmoor Hedge Competition in partnership with the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups, together with the generous support and sponsorship of the Exmoor Trust.

Susan May, Chairman of the Exmoor Trust, and Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, presented the prizes of up to £200 to the winning hedgelayers. First Place in the Open Class was Peter Smith, who laid the hedge for Timothy and Sally Stevens of Summerings Farm, near Wheddon Cross. Second prize went to Gary Atkins, who laid one of the hedges belonging to Shiamala Comer at Ashott Barton Farm, Exford. In third place was a hedge belonging to Robert Kilvington of Parsonage Farm, Hawkridge, whose hedge was laid by Adam Tarr of Lower Hunstone.

Heather Harley, Conservation Officer (Farming & Land Management) for Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We’re extremely grateful to the Exmoor Trust and the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups for supporting this competition. This traditional skill is so important to the wildlife and landscape of the National Park and an integral part of the rural community.

“Agri-environment support for hedge management has changed dramatically over recent years and the future of hedge management on Exmoor is not certain. I hope that this competition goes a little way to promote the work of these craftspeople.”

Susan May, Chairman of the Exmoor Trust, said: “The Exmoor Trust is very pleased to continue to sponsor the Exmoor Hedge Competition and to support this very important rural skill.  Exmoor would not look like it does today if it were not for these skilled hedge-layers. With uncertain times ahead for agriculture, management of the land and hedgerows becomes ever more important.”

Those looking to develop their hedge-laying skills may be interested in the one-day introductory courses being offered in the Quantocks this autumn, organised by Somerset Hedge Group (£25 per person). See www.fwagsw.org.uk/Pages/Events/Category/events-and-workshops.

For more information about the competition, grants for hedge management or farming and wildlife advice, contact Heather on 01398 322277 or hjharley@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

HISTORIC BUILDINGS FESTIVAL AND PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION

Exmoor’s first ever Historic Buildings Festival is due to kick off this month, with a week of events celebrating the National Park’s impressive array of buildings from throughout the ages.

From 16-22 September, a wide range of expert walks, talks and practical demonstrations will be on offer celebrating this cultural heritage. Guest speakers and skilled craftspeople will shed light on how and why these structures came to be and what they can teach us about how our ancestors lived and worked. The Festival forms part of Heritage Open Days*, when places right across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history.

The week of largely free events will begin with an open day to see conservation in action in Simonsbath’s Ashcombe Gardens, where a project is underway to restore and uncover the story behind a Picturesque garden and the unusual Scottish croft-house that formed part of it. This is the first time the public will have an opportunity to go inside the buildings since restoration works began, and the first time they have been without scaffolding for many years.

Find out the story of Lynton and Lynmouth’s famous cliff railway and walk in the footsteps of computer pioneer Ada Lovelace to discover the extensive network of intriguing paths, viewpoints and tunnels found on her former Porlock estate. Get an exclusive tour of medieval buildings in Dunster as part of a project to trace and record the town’s early history and take part in a convoy of military vehicles on route to the former secret Second World War radar station and tank training grounds found on Minehead’s North Hill.

Festival organiser Thomas Thurlow, Exmoor National Park Authority’s Historic Buildings Officer, said: “Whether it’s the medieval hall houses of Dunster, the late Georgian Scottish croft-style buildings of Simonsbath, or the industrial structures of the West Somerset Mineral Line, all these buildings have a story to tell and have helped shape the landscape we see today. There are so many historic treasures to be found on Exmoor if you know where to look and we can’t wait to showcase these amazing buildings.”

The full programme of events can be found on the Exmoor National Park Authority website at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/historicbuildingsfestival and is available in printed form free from National Park Centres in Lynmouth, Dunster and Dulverton.

People may also wish to take part in the Exmoor Society photographic competition, which this year includes a historic buildings category (the closing date is 30 September). Find out more at www.exmoorsociety.com/content/news/alfred-vowles-photographic-competition-2

PHOTO: White Rock Cottage in Simonsbath seen without scaffolding for the first time in decades.

EXMOOR DARK SKIES FESTIVAL PROGRAMME ANNOUNCED

Over 50 events in celebration of Exmoor’s spectacular starry skies are set to take place across the National Park this autumn, as bookings open for the region’s third annual Dark Skies Festival.

From 14 October to 3 November, venues across the National Park will take advantage of its status as one of three designated International Dark Skies Reserves in the country, to host a range of experiences inspired by the wonders of the night sky.

Following many sell-out events during the first two years, the Festival will this year span three weeks, covering the half term breaks for both Devon and Somerset as well as some quieter spells when the children are back to school.

Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “The tranquillity and stunning landscapes of Exmoor make it the perfect place to walk, stargaze and take a break from the bustle of busy modern lives and we hope that through the Festival many more people will discover the magic of its night skies.”

The Festival caters for a wide range of ages and interests, with highlights for families including this year’s Astro Party at Wimbleball Lake, a 360-degree planetarium experience in Dunster, Bampton or Barnstaple, or the National Park’s first ever Dark Skies Big Adventure with the National Trust.

Wildlife lovers may wish to partake in a guided starlit walk or dusk safari, ending with warming local produce supper or hot chocolate and marshmallows. Meanwhile, the more adventurous might enjoy night mountain biking or a guided walk with an Exmoor National Park Ranger to see the Orionids meteor shower in peak flow.

Foodies will find countless opportunities to indulge in delicious astronomy-inspired suppers married with expert talks and stargazing.

And not forgetting astronomy enthusiasts, who will be spoilt for choice with guided stargazing opportunities, talks on choosing the right telescope or the latest astronomy apps, plus the chance to hone astrophotography skills.

This year children up to 16 years can also enter an Exmoor dark skies-inspired story writing competition, with the winner getting a free astronomy and space workshop for their school, hosted by Jo Richardson of Somerset-based company ‘Space Detectives’.

Katrina Munro of Exmoor National Park Authority coordinates the festival, which is sponsored by rural broadband providers Airband UK. She said: “Many people have never experienced what it’s like to look up into a truly dark sky, see the thousands of stars and feel that inevitable sense of wonder. Exmoor tourism businesses, farms and organisations including the National Trust, Forestry England, South West Lakes Trust and Exmoor Pony Centre have all teamed up with the National Park to ensure there’s something for everyone throughout the three-week festival period.

“We have such a variety of great places to stay, many within the darkest areas of the National Park, but all within easy access of the various events. Events can all be booked separately, allowing people to pick and choose those that interest them most.”

The full programme of events is available at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival or from National Park Centres at Dulverton, Dunster or Lynmouth. Details of places to stay are included and further accommodation can be found at www.visit-exmoor.co.uk . For more information phone the Lynmouth National Park Centre on 01598 752509, open 7 days a week.

PHOTO: Dark Skies over Exmoor by Peter Hendrie.

COMMUNITIES CASH IN WITH GRANTS FOR SHOPPING AND SAILING ON EXMOOR

Exmoor National Park has invested in a community shop and an accessible sailing boat with the latest grants from the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund. Roadwater Community Shop and Wimbleball Sailability have both been awarded funding of up to £2,500 in support of projects helping Exmoor communities thrive and opening up fresh opportunities for people to experience the National Park.

Wimbleball Sailability has offered sailing experiences for disabled people at Wimbleball Lake on Exmoor for over 30 years. The new funding will help towards the purchase of a new eight-seater sailing boat, ensuring many more people can experience the thrill of a day out on the water.

David Mather, who helps run the programme, said: “Disabled people from across Somerset and North Devon, including many care-home residents, regularly enjoy sailing trips with the help of our dedicated team of volunteers. Thanks to this funding we look forward to introducing many more people from the disabled community to Exmoor and the opportunities that exist to enjoy the freedom and fun of sailing.”

The funding will also help pay for a community hub and information point for the National Park within Roadwater Community Shop & Post Office, as part of work to upgrade and extend the existing building, which is run with the support of more than 60 volunteers.

Shop volunteer Robert Wetheridge said: “Since the village took over ownership and running of the shop last year, officers at Exmoor National Park have supported us in countless ways – through their Partnership Fund, planning advice, community project planning fee reimbursement and advice on access to Carbon Reduction funding that has paid for installation of a small solar panel.

“Once complete the building upgrade will increase accessibility to all, provide a small cafe and community hub area, plus an outdoor patio with a view over the village hall recreation ground and swings. We all have our fingers crossed that construction can begin in early autumn and are so grateful for all the ongoing support.”

Philip Kiberd, Funding Officer at Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “These two projects show how a relatively small contribution of up to £2,500 can make a real difference to those living in the National Park or coming to enjoy what it has to offer. We’re particularly looking for projects that can enhance the landscape, help nature, investigate heritage or introduce new people to the National Park and would love to hear from anyone with a great idea.”

You can apply to the Partnership Fund Small Grants scheme at any time. Funding decisions are made around four times a year with the next due in the autumn. Apply at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/partnership-fund or for friendly advice contact the Funding Officer on 01398 322237 or by emailing partnershipfund@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk.

NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE RESPONSIBLE DOG WALKING IN THE COUNTRYSIDE LAUNCHED BY EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK AND OSCAR & HOOCH

Exmoor National Park and leading Somerset-based pet accessory company Oscar & Hooch have joined forces to launch a national campaign to promote responsible dog walking in the countryside.

The campaign, which will run for the duration of the summer school holidays, will encourage dog-owning families and other dog walkers to go out and enjoy the spectacle of the Exmoor National Park and other UK beauty spots whilst at the same time reminding them to keep their dogs under control at all times so that wildlife, livestock and other visitors are not disturbed. Dog walkers will also be encouraged to clean up any dog mess and dispose of it properly to keep the Park and other destinations clean and tidy for other walkers to enjoy and to prevent any harm or disease to other animals and wildlife.

According to statistics provided by The Kennel Club, since 2010, dog ownership is up 10% and is now at 8.5 million dogs. 26% of homes have a dog and astonishingly over half of all outdoor visits include a dog.

There are many benefits to welcoming dogs in the countryside such as encouraging healthy lifestyles and supporting local visitor economies. Owning a dog not only provides owners with the opportunity to go out and enjoy the great outdoors but also has many health benefits. Owning a dog is good for mental health, providing interaction with other dog walkers and companionship.

However, there are also some concerning issues associated with irresponsible dog ownership. According to NFU Mutual, the cost of livestock worrying has risen 67% over the past two years in the UK. The rural insurer said not all livestock farmers insure against sheep worrying, but it estimates the annual cost to the industry is now £1.6m, while the average cost of a claim has risen by more than 50% to £1,300.

All the UK National Parks have a policy of encouraging responsible dog walkers and Exmoor, like the other National Parks, has a set of guidelines for dog owners to follow. Keeping a dog under close control, particularly around livestock and areas of ground-nesting birds is a key issue, as is regular worming and clearing up dog mess responsibly.

Dan Barnett, Access and Recreation Manager for Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “Generally, your dog should be under close control at all times and there are specific areas and times of the year that they need to be kept on a lead. There are around 620 miles (1,000km) of public Rights of Way (e.g. footpaths and bridleways) on Exmoor for you and your dog to enjoy. On public RoW there is no legal requirement to keep your dog on a lead but, unless you are very confident about your dog’s obedience, we strongly recommend that you do as they must be under close control. There are all sorts of scents and smells that may prove too tempting to resist and result in your dog disappearing into the distance. You will inevitably meet livestock, other people, dogs, cyclists and horse riders at some point and there is potential for confrontation if your dog is out of control.

“There are over 18,000 hectares of open access land for you to explore where the public have a right of access on foot with a dog, however your dog must be kept on a lead of less than two metres during the bird-nesting season (1 March to 31 July) and at all times near livestock.”

The six-week national awareness campaign will consist of an online quiz which entrants can enter to win an Oscar & Hooch collar and lead each week. This will be integrated with a social networking campaign on both the Exmoor National Park and Oscar & Hooch social media platforms together with a press campaign across all national and regional media. Oscar & Hooch will also be donating 10% of sales through their website over the six week period when customers use the code EXMOOR at checkout, contributing towards the upkeep and preservation of Exmoor National Park.

NEW FOOTPATH UNVEILED IN MEMORY OF EXMOOR’S FIRST RANGER

Exmoor National Park Rangers past and present have gathered today on North Hill for World Ranger Day and the unveiling of a new 1.5-mile circular route in memory of Exmoor’s first ever Ranger, Jim Collins.

The walk, which starts and finishes at the car park near the old tank training grounds on North Hill near Minehead (grid ref: SS953474), was one of Jim’s favourites for its breathtaking views across Exmoor and the Bristol Channel. It was overlooked by the house he lived in until his death last year, aged 95.

Jim Collins, the first Exmoor National Park Ranger, at his home in Minehad being interviewed for the Exmoor Magazine in 2014.

At a gathering attended by dozens of Exmoor Rangers from over the decades, Dan Barnett, Exmoor National Park’s Head Ranger, said: “Jim maintained strong ties with the National Park right up to his death and I’m sure he’d be delighted to see his name commemorated as part of Exmoor’s much-celebrated Rights of Way network, which he helped create.

“Jim was a real trailblazer and evidence of the work he started can be seen all over the National Park. This included some of the first waymarked rights of way and permissive routes on Exmoor, a task that meant winning over the hearts and minds of farmers, landowners and the public. It’s a skill still central to the job of rangering and to the success of our now 1,300km-long access network, that we’re delighted to be celebrating here today with Jim’s family.”

Close family of Jim’s have attended the gathering to witness the unveiling of a new fingerpost naming the route ‘Jim’s Path’. His son, Phil Collins, said: “It’s wonderful to see such a gathering of Jim’s friends and colleagues, with some I know who have travelled from as far as Australia. It’s not hard to see why rangering in such a beautiful landscape leaves its mark, but it takes someone special to see that it’s the people who make the place, and my father was testament to that.”

A display celebrating Jim’s life, and comparing how the job of the Exmoor Ranger has changed over the years, went on show in National Park Centre in Dunster last week.

Robin Milton, Chair of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “With National Parks this year celebrating 70 years since the ground-breaking law that created them, it’s good to be reminded of the early pioneers who first breathed life into the vision of National Parks as the living, working landscapes we all know and love today.”

PHOTO: Exmoor’s first three Head Rangers – David Beazley, Jim Collins and Bill Gurnett, 1980s.

HUNDREDS JOIN ROYALS FOR BIG NATIONAL PARKS PICNIC

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were yesterday joined by hundreds of picnickers in Exmoor National Park for a special celebration marking 70 years since the ground-breaking 1949 Act of Parliament that established UK National Parks.

The ‘National Parks Big Picnic’ saw more than 500 people gather to enjoy a picnic and a cream tea in the beautiful surroundings of Simonsbath’s riverside meadows at the heart of Exmoor’s former Royal Forest.

Their Royal Highnesses were greeted by leaders from across the UK National Park family. They also met groups such as the Exmoor Society and Exmoor Hill Farming Network, children from Exford First School, local producers and craftspeople, and were presented with a hamper of local Exmoor produce to enjoy at home.

All attendees received a souvenir programme with a Forward by the Prince of Wales, stating: “However much our lives, and those of our children, may change in the future, the basic human need for peace, beauty and spiritual refreshment from engaging closely with the natural world will, I believe, remain every bit as important as it was seventy years ago.”

The centrepiece was the unveiling of a stunning cake inspired by the diverse landscapes of the UK’s 15 National Parks – from rugged mountains and vast open moorland, to soft rolling hills, meandering wetlands and dramatic coastline.

Special guests at the celebration included Niall Hobhouse, whose grandfather Sir Arthur Hobhouse pioneered the 1947 report that paved the way for the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, and the creation of the UK’s National Parks.

The Act, described at the time as a “recreational gift to Britain’s returning Second World War service men and women”, set out to recognise, conserve and enhance access to landscapes deemed to be “of national importance and quality”.

70 years on the UK has 15 National Parks, attracting over 130 million visitor days a year, worth almost £6bn to the UK tourism economy and much more in terms of crucial ecosystem services, such as carbon storage, flood prevention, clean air and water.

Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, who hosted the event, said: “It’s with immense pride that we welcome Their Royal Highnesses to Exmoor today. Many say they love Exmoor for its incredible variety – made up of wild open moorland, spectacular coastline, deep wooded valleys, fast flowing streams and magnificent starry dark skies. But what really makes Exmoor is its people and the immense sense of responsibility we all feel towards this beautiful place. It goes right to the core of why National Parks were created, and I think today we all go away with a sense of the shared passion still felt for that cause.”

Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Minister for National Parks, said: “Seventy years on from the ground-breaking legislation that paved the way for their creation, our National Parks remain some of the nation’s most cherished places.

“We owe a great debt to past generations who had the wisdom to preserve these precious landscapes – and this momentous anniversary offers an opportunity to reflect on how we can ensure that our National Parks are conserved and enhanced for generations to come.”

Margaret Paren OBE, Chair of National Parks England, said: “There is a huge amount that has been achieved and for which to be proud from our first 70 years.  The reasons why we have National Parks resonates every bit as much today as then.  We collectively care for these extraordinary landscapes, among the best in the world, and we inspire generations.  And so as we look to the future, National Parks have a pivotal role to play in responding to the climate emergency, supporting nature recovery, and providing physical health and mental well-being for all.”

Carl Lis OBE, Chair of National Parks UK, said: “I am incredibly grateful to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall for choosing to celebrate 70 years of UK National Parks with us here today. They are fantastic supporters of UK National Parks, which continue to attract hundreds of millions of visitors every year and make such a significant contribution to the UK tourism economy”.

The event was sponsored by Tarmac with further support from The Exmoor Society, Somerset County Council, Devon County Council, Exmoor Hill Farming Network and the family of UK National Parks.

SHARE YOUR MEMORIES OF PINKERY

For nearly 50 years, generations of schoolchildren from Somerset, Devon and further afield have been coming for residential stays at the Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning, high on Exmoor. To mark the occasion and celebrate World Outdoor Learning Day Exmoor National Park Authority – who welcome around 2,000 children a year to the Centre – recently asked people to share old photos and memories from their stay to form part of an exhibition later in the year.

John Fletcher is deputy head of Heathfield Community School, in Taunton, which has been sending  Year 7 students for residentials at the Pinkery Centre for 40 years. He said: “Our students say time again that the most important and memorable experience they had of school was Pinkery. What they learn can’t be captured by league tables or exam results and we’re delighted to have so far been able to support 15,000 students to visit. I‘m sure many will take this opportunity to share memories in celebration of this special place and the lifelong lessons it helps to make.”

Pinkery was converted into an outdoor centre in 1969, having previously been an isolated hill farm for more than a century. Arthur Philips, the Centre’s first warden, recalls: “The building had been vacant for years and there were sheep living in it. I got together some volunteers, who all gave up their weekends and camped throughout the winter while the work was going on.

“It took about six months but we made it homely enough and when those first groups came, some of the farm buildings were still in use for storing hay and shearing sheep, so that become part of the lessons. There was time for studying the geology and wildlife, helping with conservation or maintenance work, and also outdoor pursuits like map reading, climbing and canoeing. My favourite was taking groups out over the moor on horseback. They’d spend 20 minutes grooming and helping tack up and then we’d be off. The impact it had on the youngsters was quite amazing.”

Situated in open moorland at 400 metres above sea-level and in the heart of Exmoor’s International Dark Sky Reserve, staying at the Centre remains a truly off-grid experience enjoyed by thousands of schoolchildren every year. Management was transferred to Exmoor National Park Authority 25 years ago in 1994, with major investment to modernise the building over the years, including the addition of a spring-fed water supply, wind turbine, cutting-edge photovoltaic roof and a new wing opened by Sir Ranulph Fiennes in 1995.

Dave Huxtable, who now runs the centre on behalf of Exmoor National Park, said: “Gaining confidence in the outdoors and connecting with nature encourages learning right across the curriculum and is crucial to inspire the next generation to love and care for our precious landscapes. There’s always one or two kids that aren’t sure at first, but by the end they’re usually the ones having the time of their lives. It’s a very special place and we’d love to have an exhibition celebrating all of the memories Pinkery has made.”

Send in your photos and memories of Pinkery to pinkery@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or share them on social media using #Pinkery50th.

PHOTO: The first school group arriving in the spring of 1971.

EXMOOR DARK SKIES FESTIVAL – BIGGER AND BETTER

A family astro-party, night mountain-biking, nocturnal wildlife walks and stargazing with delicious food are all on the agenda for Exmoor National Park’s annual Dark Skies Festival. Now in its third year, the Festival is going from strength to strength, with this year’s programme extended over three weeks instead of two.

From 14 October to 3 November, Exmoor National Park Authority will be teaming up with local businesses and groups to put on an array of events in celebration of the region’s spectacular dark skies, now one of 13 International Dark Sky Reserves.

Katrina Munro from Exmoor National Park Authority said: “We’re delighted to have extended the festival to three weeks to ensure there are plenty of activities for all and that the half-term break is covered for both Devon and Somerset schools.

“We aim to introduce people near and far to Exmoor’s incredible starry skies and are very grateful for the support once again of our festival sponsors, rural broadband providers Airband UK. With the return of old favourites like our mobile planetarium and guided Orionid meteor walks, plus the introduction of our very first Dark Skies Big Adventure with the National Trust, there’ll be plenty to delight space enthusiasts of all ages.”

Exmoor National Park was designated as Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark Sky Association in 2011. The National Park Authority continues to work with developers to help limit light pollution, providing unrivalled views of the celestial landscape while also preserving it for nocturnal wildlife.

Astronomer David Pearson, who volunteers for the National Park Authority as a Dark Skies Ambassador, said: “Even with the naked eye there’s so much people can see and all the family can enjoy spotting constellations and shooting stars. Through our research over the last few months, we have found some great secluded stargazing spots for keen astronomers, which are away from the glare of artificial lighting. In the darkest skies directly overhead we can see hundreds of objects, including the star clouds of our Milky Way, glowing clouds of dust and gas, satellites and spacecraft.”

Details of all the festival events can be found at exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival and a full printed programme will be available from National Park Centres in Lynmouth, Dunster and Dulverton from August.

Photo: Keith Trueman ©, Burrow Farm Engine House in Exmoor National Park. Built in 1860 to help mine the Brendon Hills iron field, it is the last remaining example of a ‘Cornish’ type engine house in Somerset. More info: www.exmoorher.co.uk/Monument/MSO8859

WARNING OVER ASH DIEBACK IN EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK

Around 800,000 trees in Exmoor National Park may be at risk from ash dieback, the National Park Authority has warned, as work to clear potentially hazardous infected trees from land it owns gets underway in Simonsbath this week.

The estimate comes from a Forestry Commission report produced on behalf of Exmoor National Park last summer*. It follows a University of Oxford study last month predicting a nationwide cost of £15 billion to the British economy linked to ash dieback**.

Ash is the second most common native tree species in Exmoor National Park after oak. It’s estimated that at least 95 per cent of ash trees in the UK will be killed by ash dieback over the next 20-30 years.

Graeme McVittie, Exmoor National Park Authority Senior Woodland Officer, said: “The trees being felled in Simonsbath next week are on Exmoor National Park Authority land and will be the first of many that will be sadly missing from the Exmoor landscape in years to come. We always conduct a thorough check for nesting birds and if possible delay any tree work to avoid disturbing them. But because this disease progresses so rapidly we have to act quickly before trees become too hazardous.

“Many of the diseased trees won’t need removing and may even provide temporary benefits to wildlife – for example populations of woodpeckers and stag beetles peaked following Dutch elm disease in the 1980s. Yet the longer-term loss in terms of public benefits such as clean air and water and carbon storage is likely to be significant.

“We are committed to the government’s national action plan on ash dieback, which focuses on building resilience and encouraging tolerant species of ash and are happy to provide expert advice to anyone with concerns. It is always the landowners’ responsibility to deal with any diseased trees that may present a risk to the public.”

Ash dieback disease is caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. It causes leaf loss and crown dieback and once infected a tree will usually die, often as a result of the infection weakening the tree so it becomes more susceptible to attack by other pests and diseases.

There is no requirement to notify Exmoor National Park Authority about ash dieback but the Forestry Commission is collecting data about this and other tree diseases at www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert.

Exmoor National Park Authority has recently set up a new CareMoor Tree Fund for people wishing to donate towards replacing any cherished tree that has been lost from the landscape for any reason. Find out more at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor.

* National Forest Inventory statistics for Exmoor National Park, Forest Research, July 2018, Online at: file://srvfs-app1/userdirs/astevens/VM_redirect/downloads/FR_NFI_Exmoor_Report_2018.pdf

** The £15 billion cost of ash dieback in Britain, Current Biology, Louise Hill et al, May 2019, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.03.033

About ash dieback: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/woodland/working/Info-for-woodland-owners/ash-dieback-disease