Local community group, the Friends of Grove Woods at Churston, were thrilled to receive a large contribution from the National Lottery Community Fund recently. The group, awarded a whopping £9,950 towards their Grove Woods Revival Project, will now have the funds to enable the continued restoration of this precious ancient local woodland. Their aim is to further improve the woodland habitat, enhance biodiversity and encourage the return of wildlife and plant species once native to this area.
Nigel Wood, Chair of the Friends of Grove Woods said.“This is fantastic news and we are very grateful to the National Lottery players because this grant will allow us to accomplish things that were just a pipedream a year ago. It will enable us to buy tools and provide essential training for our volunteers as well as installing interpretation boards and improving access to the woods for the benefit of the community and visitors to the area”.
Chris Lingard, Estate Manager, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust said. “We are delighted that Nigel and his team have secured this NLCF award. They have all worked so hard in seeking this grant. We are hugely impressed with their dedication and passion towards the Grove Project.”
In 2017, a large area of the woodland was cleared when a significant number of Larch and Sweet Chestnut trees, showing signs of disease at the Grove and Ball Copse, were felled on advice from The Forestry Commission. Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust (TCCT), managers of the woodland, organised the planting of 4,800 new trees in March 2018. A project supported by community planting days and funded by the Woodland Trust and a TCCT crowdfunding initiative.
The Friends Group, formed in January 2018, continued the restoration of the woodland and since February this year the group has been running active work parties every Saturday. The work parties carry out practical woodland conservation tasks, which has included opening up the rides in a way that will benefit a wide range of animals, plants and insects. Training on the use of specialist tools and equipment also takes place during these sessions and Project leader, Nigel, shares his wealth of experience in woodland management, conservation and wildlife.
Since their work began, the woodland has shown signs of returning wildlife already. The large clearing, created following the mass tree felling, has become a new and extensive foraging area for bats including the greater horseshoe bat and several other species. Several butterfly surveys carried out last summer identified 20 butterfly species including the stunning white admiral and gorgeous silver-washed fritillary, already thriving in the newly created habitats.
The future management will continue to enhance the opportunities for a wide range of other species too; potentially the hazel dormouse could colonize in the woodland because of its abundance of hazel stools.
Many local organisations have supported Nigel and his team, since the Friends’ Group was formed. They have offered vital sponsorship and support to enable them to continue to work towards restoring the woods. These important sponsors include Paignton Zoo, Torbay Council, English Riviera Geopark, The Butterfly Association, The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Association, The Devonshire Association, the ANOB (South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and the Brixham Heritage Museum.
Got a news story, blog or press release that you’d like to share or want to advertise with us? Contact us