Dayshul Brake

Rewilding with a shared landowner vision

1 Header Dayshul

At a glance

Location

Witheridge, Devon

Area

148 hectares

Start date

2020

Scale

Medium

Habitats

Lowland, Mixed woodland, Rivers and streams, Lakes and ponds and Grassland and meadow

Key species

Eurasian beaver, Water vole, Tamworth pigs, Marsh fritillary and Ruby red Devon cattle

Rewilding actions

Extensive grazing, Habitat restoration and Natural regeneration

Engaging people

Volunteering, Education programme and Wellness programme

Dayshul Brake is a trailblazing example of landowners working together to rewild at scale in the heart of rural Devon. Three neighbouring farms have united under a shared vision for creating a complex, nature-willed landscape that encourages an increasingly rich and evolving tapestry of biodiversity. This vision for nature also nurtures new nature-based enterprises, creating a territory that is both ecologically and economically sustainable. This vision is being achieved through collaboration - sharing livestock, equipment, resources, and knowledge to support wildlife recovery across a diverse range of habitats. A variety of approaches will be used to restore lost ecological processes. Mixed grazers will be reintroduced to act as proxies for our missing native herbivores combined with active habitat restoration and species reintroductions to create a vital mosaic of habitat. Dayshul Brake sits at the centre of a growing network of local allies engaged in ecological restoration and diversified sustainable rural economies.

KICK-STARTING REWILDING

A number of steps have already been undertaken to stimulate ecological recovery across the site. Habitat recreation includes wetland and pond creation, habitat piles and restoration of species rich meadows through seed translocation. Land drains have been broken up to restore hydrological processes on site and encourage natural wetlands to form, slowing the flow and storing more water on site as flood mitigation. In 2020 beavers were reintroduced to the area and harvest mice were released to bolster the existing population. A water vole reintroduction project is currently underway.

Natural regeneration has been encouraged, supplemented with native tree planting. Sheep grazing has been reduced in favour of cattle and recently Tamworth pigs have been brought in for some creative disturbance. Areas of internal fencing have been removed to allow for more extensive grazing.

NATURE BASED ENTERPRISES

Several new nature-based enterprises are being explored for the project area alongside existing ventures in organic, pasture for life regenerative farming and timber sales through continuous cover forestry. Areas of interest include wellbeing, arts and educational activities, eco/agri tourism and business rentals.

Images: Dayshul Brake Project Team and Tom Williams/Dartmoor UAV Services

Gallery

2 Drone
6 Cow
3 Orchids
7 Meadow sweet
5 Pigs
4 Culm

Future Plans

  1. 1 Consider other species reintroductions including Exmoor ponies, white stork and horned rare breed native cattle
  2. 2 Continue monitoring biodiversity across the site, undertaken in partnership with other stakeholders
  3. 3 Explore ways to employ the natural capital of the site to enable opportunities for social enterprise
  4. 4 Develop a combined strategic plan for habitat renewal to increase connectivity across the project area

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