Naturally Healthy Month, Devon Dark Skies week and other updates

Local Nature Partnership

October 2020

Natural Devon (Devon Local Nature Partnership) is a collaboration of all those working to tackle the Ecological Emergency and develop a healthy nature recovery network across Devon for wildlife, communities and business. Please see our website for more information. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

To submit an article please email (50 words and a picture).

Dr James

Farewell and thank you from the Chair

Due to clinical commitments arising from C-19 I am sadly stepping down as Chair of Natural Devon after two very enjoyable years in the post. To say it has been an eventful few years would be an understatement! I remember, when I took on this role, feeling so frustrated that no one outside of the environmental sector seemed to realise that there was a Climate and Ecological crisis or that human health is intrinsically linked to the health of our natural world…… how things have changed! Through the incredible work of all of you who care, we have seen global declarations of a Climate and Ecological emergency and strong local leadership from people who are simply prepared to say what they believe is right. This local energy has been instrumental in making Devon a leading light; coming together and starting to build a Nature Recovery Network and county wide Carbon Plan. This October we are promoting our Naturally Healthy and Dark Skies initiatives, both great examples of the links between human and environmental health.

The true value of a Nature Partnership is that together we are more than the sum of our parts. With that in mind I would like to say a huge thank you to all our Board and Working Group members and those in the wider Forum for coming together to develop and support the LNP.

The current pandemic has devastated families and communities and enforced a pause in our economies. It has made us all question what really matters to us. As we emerge will we be brave enough to invest in patching up the holes our economic model has driven in the web of life? Let us not passively hope for this better future but come together as partners who have the courage to make it happen.

I will be continuing to Chair the LNP’s Naturally Healthy Steering Group and as such am looking forward to working with the new Chair when appointed.

Thank you all again and very best wishes

James Szymankiewicz

To read James' full farewell letter visit the Natural Devon website

Web banner for naturally healthy month

It is Naturally Healthy October!

Now more than ever we recognise the importance of being active outdoors and connecting to nature. During October, LNP partners are sharing lots of ideas to inspire us all to be Naturally Healthy -  see Active Devon or Natural Devon or follow us on social media @activedevon and @Devon_LNP. 

Share your naturally healthy activities using #naturallyhealthy and copy us in.

Photo competition with fabulous prizes.

We are running a Naturally Healthy photo competition with the chance to win outdoor clothing and equipment vouchers.  The main prize is an online Naturally Healthy Photography tutorial with professional photographer Vanessa Miles.  All details can be found on the Natural Devon Website

Bid to be a green social prescribing pilot

Our Naturally Healthy Steering Group is currently working with the health sector to bid for government funding to be one of four pilots.  The pilots will focus on communities most affected by coronavirus and will look at what is required to scale up green social prescribing and the steps needed to increase patient referrals to environment and nature-based activities.  

Devon dark skies week information banner

Devon Dark Skies Week 23-30th October   #DevonDarkSkies

As the nights draw in this is a week of webinars, events and discussion to help us all embrace the beauty and value of dark skies and take action to reduce light pollution. 

We begin on Friday 23 October with a Virtual Planetarium Tour of the Night Sky led by the East Devon Norman Lockyer Observatory. Other webinars include, How to be a Space Detective, Wildlife and Lighting, a Beginners Guide to Astrophotography, What is Lighting?, The Future for Dark Skies and Taking Inspiration from Landscapes at Night.  All are led by experts but aimed at an audience with no existing knowledge.  Details of the webinars, information on fun activities and resources and the Devon Dark Skies Competition (including start spotting sheets and details of how to make your own telescope) can be found on the Local Nature Partnership website.

Banner for the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival

Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 16-31st October

A further opportunity to look up and rediscover your sense of wonder with activities based around stargazing in Europe's first Dark Sky Reserve. Visit the website to see how you can get involved.

Strategic direction - nature & climate

There is currently a lot happening nationally including new legislation through the Environment Bill and proposals for a fundamental reform of England's planning system. Local Nature Recovery Strategies are being piloted by Defra in a few counties, including Cornwall. Our next newsletter will include an update on related work in Devon including updates on the Devon Nature Recovery Network mapping process and headline targets, our new Woods and Trees Working Group (led by the Woodland Trust), our work with the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership on investing in natural capital, Net Gain guidance and the Devon Carbon Plan.

Quick updates from across the county

Devon Environment Foundation Logo

Devon Environment Foundation

The Devon Environment Foundation is a new local charity set up to channel funds from businesses and philanthropists that want to protect and restore nature in Devon to the grassroots projects that will make it happen. If you’re interested in finding out more about their work, donating, or applying for a grant, find out more at our website or @Devon_Enviro.

Sweep EXPO event details

SWEEP virtual Expo:  20 - 22 October

Natural Capital in the South West  is running from the  20 - 22 October. Attendees can select from a range of themed sessions focusing on Natural Capital approaches and tools for marine, land, coastal change and whole-catchment settings. Keynotes include Tony Juniper and Luke Pollard. The SWEEP website has further information.

Heath Lobelia

Devon Special Species updates

The beautiful Heath Lobelia is found in wet, acidic, grassland and is now known from only six sites in the British Isles, all in southern England. The population in Andrew's Wood in south Devon, a Devon Wildlife Trust reserve, is the largest.  The flower was once widespread in the Kilmington and Shute area in East Devon but, largely due to the loss of heathland, is now only found there in a private garden.  Last autumn volunteers collected seed and the new plants have been planted out on Kilmington and Shute Common.  Visit the East Devon AONB website to find the full story and help with the search for other records of this rare plant.

Narrow headed ant by Gus Jones

The Nest Quest continues...

The narrow-headed ant (a wood ant) is under threat in England. Once found across heathlands from Dorset to Cornwall and in the New Forest, it now survives at one site only in South Devon.  Help us learn more about wood ants and join the Nest Quest take part in targeted action to save the narrow-headed ant.

Find out more about other Devon Special Species 

Sorting through Rowan berries at Meeth Nursery

Saving Devon's Treescapes - the planting season approaches

As Autumn arrives, the Saving Devon’s Treescapes project is gearing up for a busy planting season. All activities, from how to get a tree from a tree distribution hub, to seed collection for the tree nursery at Meeth are on the Devon Wildlife Trust webpage.

Potential Devon re-wilding network

Ambios (based at Sharpham Estate) is working with Rewilding Britain to investige the potential for developing a Devon rewilding network. If you are interested please fill in their survey.

Greener Devon Week Campaign Post

Devon Youth Parliament - Greener Devon Week - 19th October

Greener Devon is a week organised by the Devon Youth Parliament to celebrate all of the groups across Devon who are contributing to the welfare of our planet and unite all of the in-school climate groups. During the week schools will be supplied with resources from various organisations, attending live webinars and watching pre-recorded videos. If you think you can contribute please email

Heritage Hotspots leaflet

Hartland Heritage Hotspots

The North Devon AONB has brought together a number of ‘Heritage Hotspots’ in a free and easy to read leaflet. The leaflet was created as part of the Coastal Heritage Project and highlights areas of interest away from Hartland’s more popular tourist destinations. Visit the Coastal Heritage webpage to download a copy.

The South Devon AONB team getting ready to start their 60 at 60 Challenge

South Devon AONB 60@60 Challenge

To celebrate 60 years of the South Devon AONB, people are being encouraged to walk 60 miles of the glorious AONB coastline on the South West Coast Path National Trail. Sponsorship for the challenge will help fund 60 local young carers to enjoy coastal respite days. Head to the South Devon AONB website to get involved before the end of April 2021.

Biosecurity Guardian Posing on a rock

Protecting reservoirs and people

Since the easing of lockdown, reservoirs in the south west have seen an increase in visitors. This influx of people has highlighted the importance of South West Water's (SWW) biosecurity measures to protect reservoirs and people.  SWW and the South West Lakes Trust have established ‘Site Guardians’ to help support the biosecurity plans. These volunteers include anglers, sailors and walkers and deserve a huge thank you for monitoring these reservoirs. Find out more about biosecurity on the South West Water website.

girl looking at a log

Natural Seaton Virtual Bioblitz still a success

Although this year the bioblitz was online, lots of people still got involved with rockpool rambles, moth hunts and plant spotting. Insects were the group which were spotted most commonly but if you missed out, all of the resources are still available for you to do your own bioblitz in your local patch at the Devon Wildlife Trust Website.

Paignton photo taken by a drone over the sea

Paignton Neighbourhood Forum

The Paignton Neighbourhood Forum are looking for LNP partners to help ensure that they are doing the best they can for wildlife as they revise their Local Neighbourhood Plan. If you live in the area and think you could help out please let them know by email.

International News

Aerial Photo of the rainforest

Sign to Save the Amazon

Brazil's Amazon rainforest could collapse in a few decades, choked by intentional fires and reckless deforestation! But the European Union could use a crucial trade deal to ensure the forest is protected, and help stop this insanity. Call on Europe to save the Amazon by signing the petition. Avaaz (the global campaigning company) will launch opinion polls and deliver our voices to decision makers and the media.

Partner Events

Logo for Tamar Valley, Plantlife and National Lottery

Learn that fern - Tues 20th October

Who doesn’t love ferns? They are one of the most beautiful inhabitants of our woodlands. Spend a virtual hour with Rachel Jones from Plantlife, exploring ferns and learning skills that will help you to identify them when you are out on woodland walks. This free session takes place on Tuesday 20th October at 1pm and includes an ID guide. Book your place here.

River sampling at the connecting the Culm project

Discover the river Culm - 22 October

An online evening (4.30-6.30) of river science, history and exploration. Explore the depths of the River Culm and look across the landscapes through which it winds, to share the latest knowledge about the state of the Culm.  Details and registration

The latest newsletter bulletin has been sent to you as you have expressed an interest in being kept up to date with the work of the LNP. We may also send out invitations to conferences and other events. If you no longer wish to be part of the the Devon LNP Forum and would like to stop receiving emails you can do so by unsubscribing on our newsletter platform.

If you have content that you would like to have included in our next newsletter, put on the LNP website or shared via our social media channels please email us a short text (50 words) and include a picture.