Community groups from across Devon have been commended for their action towards wildlife conservation at the Devon Wildlife Community of the Year Awards.
The awards, which took place on Tuesday evening at Exeter Phoenix, are part of Devon Local Nature Partnership’s (DLNP) Wild About Devon initiative which supports local communities to restore and improve important habitats for nature and address the ecological emergency.
Communities and individuals across Devon are making a real positive difference to wildlife, and the Wildlife Community of the Year Awards provide an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and inspire others to set up their own local wildlife projects.
Winners were selected by a panel of judges based on the steps they had taken to improve the wildlife value of an area as well as the social benefit of their activity, for example an increase in skills, awareness in nature, social interaction, well-being, or health benefits.
There were five award categories. The Wildlife Community of the Year Award was won by Ogwild, based in Ogwell, Newton Abbott. Since 2019, Ogwild have held more than 50 events to encourage and empower 500 residents to increase the biodiversity of their parish.
Ogwild have created pollinator corridors and increased wildflower diversity in the areas they manage. Their prizes were 1kg of wildflower seed, kindly donated by Goren Farm Seeds, three trees (a silver birch, an alder, and a small leaved lime) and a Tree Growers Guide, kindly donated by Moor Trees.
Paul Martin, a member of Ogwild said:
“We are more than pleased to win this award; we are thrilled! We would like to thank every single person who has helped us to reach this point in any small or big way. We hope we have inspired more people to do what they can for wildlife and the environment.”
The first prize for Wildlife Parish & Town Council of the Year went to Great Torrington Town Council. In the last four years, up to 10 volunteers have worked hundreds of hours at their site and have planted nearly 600 trees and shrubs. They have also involved the two local schools in some activities, which has proved very popular among the pupils. They were awarded with a selection of WILDGuide books.
The Wildlife School of the Year Award went to Lydford Primary School. Lydford Primary have been hard at work transforming an area of their playing field into an environmental haven for wildlife. They have planted native trees, built large bug hotels, introduced wildflower sanctuaries and so much more. This has had a huge positive effect on the children’s mental health and well-being. They were awarded a NHBS Moth Trap and a moth ID guide, kindly donated by NHBS.
The Outstanding Individual Award went to Jan Gannaway. Jan conducts all sorts of wildlife surveys: dormice for Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, Marine Strandings Network, a local hedgehog map and helps with Exmouth Tree planting to name a few. She was awarded with some brilliant nature books written by Derek Gow.
And finally, the Special Local Nature Partnership Award went to Teignbridge Wildlife Wardens who are leading the way in supporting community groups across Teignbridge to take action for wildlife. Their model is being rolled out across other parts of Devon with the Mid Devon Wildlife Wardens scheme recently being launched. Speakers at the ceremony included Derek Gow, rewilding champion, farmer, and author of ‘Bringing Back the Beaver’, and Kevin Cox from Moor Meadows and chair of the RSPB. The event was chaired by Harry Barton, CEO of Devon Wildlife Trust and Vice Chair of DLNP.
Sarah Jennings, County Ecologist and DLNP manager said:
“This is the first time we’ve held an award ceremony for Wildlife Community of the Year. There are an incredible range of community projects and initiatives taking place across Devon. It was wonderful to meet some of the local people making action for wildlife happen – they are an inspiration to all of us to do our bit in our communities.”
This event was sponsored by South West Water, member of the Devon Local Nature Partnership.