Pennywell Farm, near Buckfastleigh is investing time and manpower into encouraging wildlife habitats and ensuring the popular visitor attraction is sustainable for the next generation.
Having won the Gold Award for Sustainable Tourism in the Visit South Devon Awards last year, Pennywell is not standing still and has employed Rupert Marshall, 27 who is a qualified conservation and countryside management officer. His role is to maintain and develop many of Pennywell’s Green initiatives and to develop wildlife conservation at the farm.
Since he started work at the beginning of the season, he has laid new hedges and is using hedgerow management to provide habitat for wildlife, including the local pipistrelle bats.
He has also spotted the rare Horseshoe bat using a bat monitor. Wild flowers have also been planted and he is overseeing a grass cutting regime, ensuring there are plenty of wild, rough areas left for wildlife.
Rupert explains, “It is sometimes difficult getting the balance right when you are at an attraction.
“Nature likes it rough but visitors can sometimes mistake wild patches for neglected areas so we have used information boards around the site to explain what lives where”.
Looking after the wildlife ponds and the fish ponds also comes under his remit. Both are filled with run-off water from the car parks and barn roofs and water is filtered using a reed bed system. Frog spawn, newts and a whole range of wetland species thrive and a grass snake has been spotted enjoying the long grass.
Bee hotels for solitary bees have made using a coppiced ash tree from the Pennywell woods and new bird boxes have been put up all over the farm. A Greater Spotted Woodpecker is a regular visitor to the wood and roe deer and badgers have also been seen.
Sustainable activities like plant-a-pot, willow weaving and pond dipping are all part of the visitor experience and the attractions solar power is demonstrated with the use of a17ft high solar tracker.
Pennywell currently holds the Green Tourism Business Scheme Gold (GTBS) Award which means the farm is accountable and undergoes a rigorous inspection every 2 years.
Rupert is now leading the ‘Green Team’ of five Pennywell team members responsible for sustainability and conservation at the attraction.Follow