Wildlife Wardens for Mid Devon?

3 May 2021

'Could you be a parish Wildlife Warden' reads an ad on the website of Acting on Climate in Teignbridge (ACT).

It goes on 'They are needed to help support, protect and increase our district's wildlife and improve its chances of surviving the ecological and climate emergencies we face. Wildlife Wardens need to love wildlife but don't need specialist knowledge, we will provide training.' Indeed, UK is losing important wildlife species. For example, the number of widespread butterfly species fell by 58% on farmed land in England between 2000 and 2021. The 'State of Nature' UK report found that a quarter of mammals and nearly half of birds assessed are at risk of extinction, and species which are inhabiting a declining area include hedgehogs, hares and bats, and many birds such as the willow tit and the turtle dove.

While Devon wildlife organisations are working towards a Nature Recovery Network, local Wildlife Wardens can really help. They are invited to keep an eye on local habitats and advise or help maintain them, including hedgerows, orchards and meadows. They can use wildlife surveys and report on wildlife, support interested landowners and gardeners with advice and ideas, and check developments as they proceed for any unexpected loss or damage to trees, hedgerows etc. They can also work with schools and young people, churches and faith groups etc. It's up to each warden, or each pair, to decide the direction they want to take in their parish.

So far, Audrey Compton, a former Ranger, has given introductory training to 41 wardens from 25 parishes in Teignbridge, and a range of experts is available to give further training in specific areas. At present training is online and risk assessment is a key subject.

I spoke to one of the newly trained wardens in Whitestone, Councillor Lou Dyer. She said 'The training was really good….I love the fact that we're linked in with all the others [wardens] through the website.' Their Facebook page is also a great way of sharing resources. For example 'You can book onto a 90 minute training online on how to start a wildflower meadow' Lou said. Lou and her companion warden are considering buying a wildlife camera to set up in different areas of the village to see what moves about when humans are out of sight.

I'd like to explore setting up a similar scheme for Mid Devon parishes. So far it seems Devon Wildlife Trust would be interested in helping, and we would need to raise funds. Do get in touch if you'd like to find out more or want to help this idea along.

Gill Westcott

01647 24789

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