Devon Community Action for Wildlife Conference 2019

8 July 2019

On Saturday 6th July I went to the Wildlife Conference in Chagford, hosted by Natural Devon. It was well attended with a waiting list for those who had wanted to come.

There was a wide selection of talks and workshops from groups all over Devon offering an insight into the wildlife work that is going on and seeking to inspire others to do more. Another aspect of the event was to try to find ways of connecting groups and enthusiasts to share information. Many at the conference felt the need to take action to protect wildlife, particularly in the knowledge we now have of climate change and how this will affect our world and the wildlife.

One of the inspiring talks was from Sacha Dench who recently featured in a documentary in which she flew on a paramotor along with swans on their migratory path from arctic Russia to Britain, which she described as "hanging from a handkerchief with a fan on her back". Having identified that there is a decline in the Bewick swan population, she decided to investigate by following the swans. The talk gave an insight into her journey which everyone told her was impossible, and how she made this happen. Her final thought was, don't presume it cannot be done or people won't be interested or want to help, you may be surprised if you just try.

This began a theme. Stories from local people, which were also very motivating, showed there is much we can do at this level and again how people just had a go to make their ideas come to life.

The photograph shows the rewilding of St Michael's Church, Chagford. The project aimed to reintroduce swifts and provide food for them from the churchyard by managing for wildlife. Different areas are managed in different ways and mowing at different rates and times. The clinical mowing we usually see today is a recent activity. There is a video link in the church to see inside the swift boxes so people can see and feel attached to the birds and understand why they are rewilding the churchyard.

The conference was funded by South West Water, Devon County Council and Natural Devon.

Dee Ross, Core Group Leader