The Donkey Sanctuary is very fortunate to occupy over 1,200 acres of farmland in Devon and Dorset, most of which falls within the rolling hills of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This land provides our resident donkeys with summer grazing pastures and haylage for the winter, as well as supporting wildlife and semi-natural habitats.
Our woodlands, ponds, hedgebanks and grassland are used by dormice, farmland birds, at least 11 species of bat, butterflies, bees and many other kinds of wildlife.
In 2013 the Sanctuary entered the Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. This scheme runs for ten years and aims to improve conditions for farmland wildlife, enhance landscape character and protect the natural and historic environment. It is helping us to restore species-rich grassland, improve the environmental value of our hedgerows, provide food sources for nectar-feeding insects, and undertake appropriate management of over 100 acres of County Wildlife Site woodland.
Today, we are exploring ways in which we can integrate the health and wellbeing of donkeys, people and the natural environment on Sanctuary land. We want to enrich our donkeys’ lives, safeguard the longevity and quality of our wildlife habitats, and give people the opportunity to connect with donkeys and nature. This work is led by our wildlife and conservation team through sustainable habitat management, species monitoring and volunteer programmes.
As part of the Sanctuary's commitment to improve biodiversity on our land, we hold seasonal Conservation Days across all our farms to carry out tasks such as hedge laying and planting, woodland management, grassland restoration and species monitoring. We are always looking for ways to improve habitat for our wild residents by providing year-round food and shelter for insects, birds and mammals, which create feasts for our senses too.
If you would like to donate your time and energy and help us with this work, we would love to see you!
Weekly volunteering sessions are held on Wednesdays (October to March), Thursdays (year round) and Fridays (April to September).
- Wednesdays: join the conservation team for woodland management and hedge-laying tasks on one of our Devon farms between October and March.
- Thursdays: we run volunteer sessions throughout the year working on a variety of wildlife and conservation projects at Slade House Farm, Sidmouth.
- Fridays: help us survey the wildlife on our farms between April and October, our species monitoring programme includes bats, birds, plants and invertebrates.
For all our volunteer days, hot drinks and tools are provided, please bring your own lunch and gloves, and wear sturdy footwear and appropriate outdoor clothing.