The DPA is one of the largest conservation groups on Dartmoor. Each year our volunteers put in an astonishing 800 man days of conservation work on the moor. We undertake a range of different conservation projects during the course of a year, depending on the season – mainly gorse and scrub clearance in the autumn and winter. Bracken cutting and surveying are our usual summer activities.
There is a regular team of volunteers, mostly DPA members but not all, and they are always pleased to see a new face.
Dartmoor contains 10% of Europe’s Bronze Age remains and many of these sites are becoming smothered in gorse and bracken because there are so few grazing animals out on the moor. As a result, many of the projects that we undertake are tied to this archaeology. Most of our long-term projects, such as the clearance of the Plymouth and Devonport Leats across Roborough Down, gorse and bracken clearance at Buckland Common Settlement and bracken clearance at Venford Reservoir farmstead are funded by organisations such as the Roborough Commoners Association, Historic England and South West Water.
We also undertake habitat improvement projects creating butterfly friendly habitats at Common Wood, near Horndon and on Roborough Down.
Projects on DPA Land
The DPA owns 4 pieces of land on Dartmoor. We run a monthly programme of conservation work on our land at High House Waste, near Cornwood. Work parties carry out gorse and bracken control to improve moorland bio-diversity, encourage natural tree regeneration and conserve the archaeological features.
The DPA has recently acquired a set of hay meadows at Pudsham Down. The volunteers are carrying out a land management programme to enhance the growth of flowers and encourage nesting birds. The summer orchid count recorded over 3000, of 5 different species in just 3 small fields.
The survey team undertake work at the request of the DNPA archaeologists on sites where a detailed record is lacking. When complete, the surveys are placed on the Historic Environment Record for public access. At present, they are involved in a large-scale project recording a Bronze Age settlement at Roundy Park, near Burrator. No previous experience is needed to join in and volunteers are taught the necessary skills. An ideal job for those who enjoy precision.
We are sensitive to the needs of wildlife and have a spell during the bird nesting season – in late Spring and early Summer – when we avoid clearance work on the moor. Dartmoor is an important area for ground nesting birds and many other species use the gorse and other scrub to build their nest in.
How to find out more
Our programme of conservation workdays is published three times a year and is available on the website. Whilst most of our volunteers are members of the Association, not all are and anyone is welcome. There is no need to make a regular commitment- just come along on the days that you are free, but please book with the project leader first.
If you would like to know more about conservation volunteering with the DPA please do call us on 01822 890646 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .