Pictured are conservation volunteers at Holyford Woods

Work begins to transform old reservoir into a wildlife haven

Over the winter months East Devon District Council’s Countryside team has been working hard to complete the first phase of work to restore a large pond found at the centre of Holyford Woods Local Nature Reserve.

The water body was formerly a small reservoir that was serviced and maintained by the water company but over the last few decades it has been left to nature and developed into an important habitat for the wildlife in the woods.  

Due to winter storms over recent years the pond has slowly filled up with stone that has been washed down the steep valley and it has been colonised by willow trees growing in the muddy shallows. This has dramatically reduced its size and the amount of sunlight reaching the water’s surface, which is bad news for many of the plants and animals living in the pond.

Willow trees

To save the pond from being lost, East Devon’s Countryside rangers along with help from the East Devon Conservation Volunteers (EDCV) and the Axe Vale and District Conservation Society (AVDCS) worked throughout February to clear the Willow trees from the pond. This has opened up the area, creating a larger glade in centre of the woodland.

The next stage in the project will be to dredge part of the pond to create larger areas of open water and a more diverse pond habitat, thereby removing some of the stone washed down in the storms and using it reinstate access tracks.

This work is planned for the autumn and, once complete, will transform this old reservoir nestled within the beautiful Holyford Woods into a wildlife haven.