Considering the weather wasn’t at its best during half term, it didn’t stop a number of keen volunteers helping at the National Trust Beach Clean. The enthusiastic supporters met here at the Sanctuary before heading off down the Weston Valley, an area of outstanding beauty, to reach Weston Beach.
The beach clean was held in partnership with our local National Trust Wardens and staff from the Sanctuary were there to lend a hand!
The team managed to fill 10 bin liners of plastic, polystyrene, fishing equipment and other materials and also carted three crab creels and a fishing box off the beach. It was a great event, helping to protect our fabulous environment.
As well as supporting this event, we celebrate World Environment Day with other positive environment friendly initiatives that we practice throughout the year:
- Composting - Working with the Carbon Compost Company, The Donkey Sanctuary is now making use of two sustainable waste products; donkey dung and willow coppice, to create a soil condition which is an excellent alternative to peat compost! The rotting dung feeds willow beds which clean the run-off water, and must be regularly cut to encourage vigorous growth. This product received an award in 2012 from the Devon Environmental Business Initiative for its "Low Carbon Initiative Business" category.
- Wildlife - The farms owned by the charity are not only home to our fabulous donkeys, but are also home to some very special wildlife too. We are currently running a dormouse monitoring scheme as part of a national project co-ordinated by the People's Trust for Endangered Species to investigate populations of these nationally scarce mammals on our land. We are also working with experts from Exeter University to survey bat populations on the farms around Sidmouth as they are recognised as being of particular interest to some very rare bats including Greater Horseshoe and Barbestelle bats. Our Axnoller Farm is home to the last native population of Water Voles on the river Axe, and we are mindful to protect the fragile riverside habitat they require.
- Hedgerows - The Sanctuary looks after literally miles of hedgerow, which are corridors for wildlife to travel through our farms. We are working to get our hedgerows into a rotation of laying, which is a way of maintaining the hedge with maximum benefit to mammals, birds and plants which call the hedgerows home.
- Woodland - The Donkey Sanctuary owns considerable areas of native broadleaf woodland, and this is managed with a light-touch approach to promote its value for biodiversity. Ancient woodland indicator plants, such as Wood Anemone are found throughout the woods, with stunning carpets of bluebells erupting each spring!
- Recent botanical surveys on Trow Farm confirmed that much of the land within the Weston Valley is of exceptional value for wild flowers. Our well-known "white donkey" field grazed through the year by donkeys is of Devon BAP (Biodiveristy Action Plan) quality for species-rich grassland!