Natural Dartmoor

Dartmoor, as the largest and highest upland in southern England, supports an astonishing diversity of habitats and species. Many are extremely rare. Others are still quite common on Dartmoor but have declined or been lost from most of lowland England.

Donate for Dartmoor contributions help fund special projects which protect and enhance the species and habitats characteristic of Dartmoor. Our projects are delivered in partnership with other organisations and involve local experts and volunteers. The two projects described here were Natural Dartmoor priorities in 2016. We plan to continue these and identify new opportunities using your donations in 2017.

Conserving the southern damselfly

The southern damselfly is one of Europe's rarest and most threatened damselflies. Approximately 25% of the world population are located in southern England and Wales, and there are three sites on Dartmoor where it can be found.

These privately owned sites provide the very particular wetland habitat required by the aquatic larvae. We work with the owners and our own Ranger Service to maintain these special conditions, and every year since 2002 we have counted both the aquatic larvae and the adult damselflies. The results help us to fine tune the management of the site. This cooperation has seen numbers increase year on year with 2016 being a record year at one site! Donate for Dartmoor contributions help us survey these sites and carry out work required to improve them.

Dartmoor House Martin project

For many of us, the house martin is an eagerly-awaited summer visitor, as welcome in our skies and to our homes as the swallow and the swift. However, our house martins are in trouble: there are fewer coming back from Africa each year. The new Devon Bird Atlas shows that confirmed breeding records across Devon have halved in just 30 years. The reasons for the decline are not fully understood.

Together with Devon Birds, Dartmoor Preservation Association and the Duchy of Cornwall, we have launched a new citizen science project, the Dartmoor House Martin Project in response to the national decline. Nest surveys were coordinated in six parishes and over 90 nesting records were submitted along with 60 artificial nests given away in raffles.

Dartmoor still supports good numbers of house martins and we need to understand why this is. Buildings in Dartmoor villages provide suitable nest sites and around the villages are farm land and moorland with an abundance of insect-rich habitats. If we can learn more about what attracts house martins to Dartmoor it may help us stop the national decline. The project continues in 2017 and you can find out more at: www.dartmoorhousemartins.org

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