Restorative Stories Are Welcome Here

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Tamara and Steve Davey’s woodland, on the fringes of Dartmoor national park. Photograph: Courtesy of Woodland Wildlife

Thanks to the Guardian for this story about the contentments of ecosystem restoration:

‘It’s good for the soul’: the mini rewilders restoring UK woodland

By buying and managing small wooded plots, enthusiasts are bringing biodiversity back to the countryside

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Woodland owners Steve and Tamara Davey. Photograph: Patrick Greenfield/The Guardian

Tamara and Steve Davey cannot help but grin at the suggestion they are “miniature rewilders”. Standing proudly in the weak sunlight on the fringes of Dartmoor national park, the full-time grandmother and taxi company owner delight in their eight-acre woodland.

Robins, tits and siskins chortle in the trees. Nightjars are welcome visitors in the summer. Seven bat species have been recorded in their small plot. There’s a badger’s sett somewhere in the hillside scrub. And the couple feel at peace.

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 The Daveys, like many woodland owners, are replacing fast-growing conifer trees with diverse native species to support wildlife. Photograph: Courtesy of Woodland Wildlife

“It’s good for the soul,” says Tamara, speaking before the coronavirus lockdown. “It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done,” Steve agrees. “If we can make a difference and help what’s here, I’ll be happy.”

The Daveys are not wealthy landowners planning to rewild vast parts of the countryside. But the couple, along with thousands of small do-it-yourself woodland owners, could play a vital role in restoring parts of the UK to nature and increasing the rare forests that cover just 13% of the country.

Nearly three-quarters of the 3.19m hectares (7.88m acres) of remaining woodland in the UK is privately owned, with more than 90% of plots in England smaller than 10 hectares (about 25 acres). Standing in the Daveys’ small wood, it is hard not to get carried away by visions of what might happen if a nation of gardeners turned their hands to forestry.

“Being among it and just listening to the sounds of nature is priceless, really. And you’re expanding your knowledge. You’re learning about different things all the time,” Steve says, expressing his love for summer evenings in the forest after a day driving his taxi. “We didn’t have any formal qualifications in land management or forestry. I’ve had a keen interest in wildlife all my life but, yeah, it’s enriching.”…

Read the whole article here.

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