DEVON Wildlife Trust has this month started a programme of work to spruce up its flagship Halsdon woodland nature reserve near Dolton. The reserve is a 57 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest with mixed deciduous river valley woodland, riverside me

DEVON Wildlife Trust has this month started a programme of work to spruce up its flagship Halsdon woodland nature reserve near Dolton.The reserve is a 57 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest with mixed deciduous river valley woodland, riverside meadows, marsh and a 2.4km length of the River Torridge. The woodland is predominantly oak with a broad range of other species and rare trees such as the Devon whitebeam and wild service tree. It has been owned by Devon Wildlife Trust since 1983, but lack of funding has meant only limited woodland management work has been carried out since then. The current work is supported by a grant of £17,210 from Natural England through Defra's Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund along with the English Woodland Grant Scheme. It is the first year of an ambitious 10-year management plan.The work will focus on improving access around the site, removal of some of the beech trees and holly, which are shading out much of the ground flora, and thinning of the oak canopy.The support also includes funding for tools and training of volunteers to help them manage the site over the coming years.Devon Wildlife Trust's Land Management Manager Matt Boydell said: "It is great to have the support from Defra's Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund for this project. We have been wanting to get to grips with this reserve for a long time. The dense canopy has been hampering the growth of ground flora, such as the bluebells, which should be thriving on the slopes of the site. Although it might look quite a drastic change initially, given a few years the work will make a real and noticeable difference to the reserve for both people and wildlife."For more information about DWT's nature reserves visit www.devonwildlifetrust.org