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Photos: Mark Elliott/Devon Wildlife Trust & Dave Chapman

Wilder Valewood

We are delighted to announce our part in the plans for Wilder Valewood - a local initiative to address species decline which includes the first introduction of Beavers on National Trust property.  It is one of the most exciting major National Trust projects for many years.  We have pledged to raise a minimum of £50,000 locally to support the project.

Recently there has been much publicity given to the idea of ‘re-wilding’ land previously intensively farmed. The aim is to allow many types of threatened fauna and flora to re-establish and flourish while at the same time providing a viable method of farming.

We are proudly supporting the National Trust’s plan for a Wilder Valewood.  The most eye-catching part of the project is the introduction of European Beavers into one of the streams to create a water-rich habitat. This beaver introduction will be a first for the National Trust in England and Wales and as expected this has attracted National media attention - see below for press links. The rest of the site will be extensively grazed by native long-horn cattle already purchased using funds provided by the BD&HH Supporters.

An aerial view of Valewood                                            Photo: National Trust

Valewood on the north-west side of Black Down is an area of land running roughly between Chase Lane and Fernden Lane. It is a relatively recent addition to the wonderful open spaces which we in the Haslemere and Hindhead area enjoy. It was purchased and given to the National Trust by a committed group of individuals in 1991. This act of personal generosity and community action mirrored the foresight and generosity of those local residents, such as, Robert Hunter, the Misses Day, Edward Hunter and others who gave Hindhead, Black Down, Marley, Swan Barn Farm and other parcels of land to the National Trust during the 20th century.

Since its acquisition Valewood has been farmed by tenant farmers, the most recent of whom relinquished his lease last year. This ‘vacancy’ has provided the National Trust with this opportunity to re-appraise the management of this land. With the depressing national picture of catastrophic declines in the numbers of insects (crucially pollinating ones) as well as amphibians and birds, schemes like Valewood can become beacons of hope for the future and inspire other land owners to follow suit. To this end we are cooperating with two leading universities to provide a sound scientific basis for the measurement of the changes we hope the re-wilding of Valewood will bring.

Needless to say, the plans at Valewood will cost a great deal of money – a round estimate is £140,000 to be spent on 2.8kms of special fencing for the beavers, beaver handling facilities, cattle fencing, cattle grids, drone monitoring, training, consultants and more. We, the Black Down & Hindhead Supporters, have agreed to be one of the two major funders of the project to the tune of £50,000.

We have now received the required beaver license from DEFRA and a commitment from another major funder. So the mission is ‘GO’!

To show their support for the project’s aims, your Committee Members and others close to the project, have already donated over £12,500 to the Wilder Valewood Fund with individual gifts of £2000, £1000 and £500. Accordingly, we are seeking donations large and small from our members and indeed anyone else who would like to provide support.  Will you join us in supporting this exciting project? If you are a taxpayer your contribution will be eligible for GiftAid. If you, or any local school or other organisation, would like to set up a fundraising activity to generate funds for the appeal we would be delighted to hear from you.  Please send an email to WilderValewood@Haslemere-NT.com or call 07557 275348.

A donation form can be accessed by pressing the following link to Wilder Valewood donation form.  Once completed it can be returned to our Treasurer Philip Currie (address on the donation form) or given to any of your Committee. If you have questions please send an email to WilderValewood@Haslemere-NT.com or call 07557 275348

Thank you in advance for your support for this ground-breaking project.

Group photo (left to right), David Elliott National Trust Lead Ranger, Nigel Quick Chair of the Black Down and Hindhead Supporters, Derek Gow Consultant Ecologist. Photo: National Trust

For more information, please follow this link which gives more details about Valewood and the re-wilding project, as well as the academic interest by universities.

National Press coverage:

The Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/20/beavers-to-be-released-in-plan-to-ease-flooding-and-aid-biodiversity

Mail online:
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7702585/National-Trust-releasing-beavers-two-sites-south-England-spring.html

ITV:
https://www.itv.com/news/2019-11-20/beavers-set-to-make-a-splash-with-reintroductions-at-national-trust-sites/

Haslemere Herald:
The Haslemere Herald has done a super article on the Wilder Valewood project please go and buy a copy to show our appreciation!

Photographs throughout the website by: David Elliott, Matt Cusack, Matt Bramwich, Alex Anderson, Alan Waggott and courtesy of the NT