Staff and volunteers from three organisations, including Devon County Council, East Devon District Council and the RSPB, work to restore important heathland in East Devon

On Thursday 15 March 2018, East Devon District Council’s Countryside team and volunteers were joined by staff and volunteers from Devon County Council’s Grand Western Canal, as well as wardens and residential volunteers from RSPB Aylesbeare, for a practical hands on day to restore the White Cross picnic site, on East Hill Strips near Ottery St Mary.

During the day, 28 individuals cleared scrub and invasive species to improve this valuable wildlife site, which has stunning views across East Devon to Dartmoor. This collaborative work aims to protect the rare heathland habitat, which animals such as ground nesting nightjars, butterflies and adders favour in the summer months.

Owned by Devon County Council and managed by East Devon’s Countryside team, White Cross picnic site, is a great starting point for walks, as well as being an important part of East Devon’s natural heritage.

The White Cross restoration project is as an extension to the work already being carried out by East Devon and the RSPB at Fire Beacon Hill local nature reserve.

Cllr Tom Wright, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for the environment, said: 

It is fantastic that the Countryside team were supported by Devon County Council and the RSPB to complete such a vast task at White Cross. By working together they were able to make a positive impact to the site for threatened wildlife. The support of an enthusiastic group of volunteers and partnership working enables East Devon to maintain our outstanding countryside and contributes towards the Health and Wellbeing agenda by providing opportunities to get active outdoors. 

Countryside Ranger, Nathan Robinson said: 

The East Devon Conservation Volunteers (EDCV) welcomed the extra help (and the extra cake laid on) at this week’s work party. It was a great opportunity to all get together and meet others working towards positive stewardship of our natural environment. Having so many people working together was a real treat – It’s amazing how much you can achieve in just one day with a collective approach. This work day was a great start to a new working partnership between the three organisations to ensure a better future for the site. 

Devon County Councillor Claire Wright, member for the Otter Valley ward, said:

East Hill is one of the most beautiful and nature rich areas in East Devon. I often go for walks up there and enjoy the wildlife and the wonderful views. I am so glad that this very special place is being well cared for by Devon County Council, East Devon District Council and the RSPB working together in this way.  As a local member I will support that work in whatever way I can. 

The East Devon District Council Countryside team manages ten nature reserves across the district and is extremely grateful for the support provided by volunteers. To find out more about the work of the Countryside team visit The team can be contacted via email: or by telephone on: 01395 517557.