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5 July 2011

Conservation Award recognises the work of individuals and groups on Dartmoor

In this the 60th anniversary year of Dartmoor’s designation as a National Park, the 2011 winners of Dartmoor National Park Authority’s biennial Edward Morshead Award have been announced.  Popular BBC presenter Judi Spiers will be assisting the Award ceremony, at Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Headquarters, on 12 July.  The Award is made in recognition of significant contributions to National Park purposes, i.e. the protection, maintenance and enhancement of the scenic beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of Dartmoor, and the promotion of the understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities.

The Edward Morshead Award First Prize goes to Ashburton Primary School.  Children are the driving force behind Eco-Schools and at Ashburton they lead the Eco-Committee and have carried out an Environmental Review to assess the environmental performance of their school.  The Eco-Energisers Group is made up of two students from every year, the Head Teacher, Deputy Head, Caretaker, Governors, parents and representatives of community groups.  Topics examined have included waste, water, litter energy, biodiversity, healthy living, global perspectives, school grounds and transport.  The review identified that the school had no energy saving practices in place and it was unanimously decided that an action plan to reduce electricity usage, monitor energy usage and to investigate opportunities for energy reduction within the school should be made.  The Eco-Energisers have now successfully applied to the Dartmoor Sustainable Development Fund to carry out improvements. 

Second Prize has been awarded to the Sticklepath and Okehampton Conservation Group. In September 2011 this group will be celebrating its 20th anniversary.  It has achieved numerous conservation tasks on Dartmoor throughout its long history including boardwalk construction, bridge building, vegetation control, drystone walling, path surfacing, and the clearance of vegetation from medieval sites in the Okehampton area.  The group has over 40 members, is open to anyone of any ability, and usually has 15 – 20 members out on most Fridays throughout the year.

Third Prize is awarded to the Dartmoor Tinworking Research Group which has recently undertaken considerable work at Brimpts, near Dartmeet.  This has involved clearing of vegetation from important mining remains, maintaining mining structures, undertaking research, maintaining a trail with interpretation around the mine, and leading tours of the mine.

Highly Commended Certificates are awarded to Moorskills, the Dartmoor Cairns Repair Project and the Dartmoor Trust Leat Partnership Scheme.

Moorskills was started in December 2006, after research showed that there was a skilled labour shortage on Dartmoor and that the problem was forecast to deteriorate in the future due to lack of succession on Dartmoor farms.  It was developed in partnership with Duchy College, Duchy of Cornwall and Dartmoor Commoners’ Council, and is supported through the work of the Dartmoor Hill Farm Project.  Out of 13 apprentices completing the scheme since 2007, all but one are employed on Dartmoor.  Moorskills has received recognition via the prestigious Prince of Wales Award.  Moorskills has also been through a rigorous Ofsted inspection as part of Duchy College and was awarded ‘Outstanding’.

The Dartmoor Cairn Repair Project was set up five years ago to survey and repair Dartmoor’s impressive prehistoric summit cairns that had become damaged over the years by visitor disturbance.  Before repairs are undertaken, the cairns are fully surveyed, photographed and recorded to a high standard by a team of dedicated volunteers.  Over five seasons of work these local people (mostly from the Dartmoor Preservation Association) have surveyed and repaired over 40 cairns and contributed around 277 volunteer days.  In a typical season, the project operates for approximately 12 days running over one weekend a month from April to September.  On average 12 volunteers attend each day.  Two open days have been held and guided walks were organised so members of the public could learn about the project, the risk to the cairns and have a go at surveying.  Such activities allow the Authority to draw on and stimulate a significant body of expertise and enthusiasm for the special qualities of Dartmoor.

The Dartmoor Trust Leat Partnership Scheme is contributing significantly to the conservation of Dartmoor’s leats which form an intrinsic and important part of Dartmoor’s historic environment and many still act as important water supplies.  The first stage of the project was carried out by various members of the Trust who did condition surveys of those leats which were accessible to the public.  The courses of over 65 flowing leats were walked and plotted and a detailed schedule of each leat was produced.  The second stage has been to grant aid the repair of leats and associated structures which the initial survey helped identify as in need of work.  Work completed to date has included the Grimstone and Sortridge Leat, where a 30 metre wooden launder was built to carry the water through an area originally served by a granite lined conduit which was losing a vast quantity of water; a new sluice gate for a take off point on the Lukesland Leat, Harford; extensive repairs to the banks along the course of the leat which runs close to the Four Winds car park and passes through the Merrivale prehistoric complex.  Work has also taken place on the leats which once served the woollen mills in Chagford, and, because of repairs to the Holne Town Leat, the large drinking trough situated in the middle of Holne once again has water running into it.

Life-time Achievement Certificates, in recognition of meritorious contributions to the purposes ofthe National Park over many years, are awarded to Professor Ian Mercer and Maywyn Wilkinson. Ian Mercer has sustained a commitment to protecting Dartmoor’s special qualities and representing Dartmoor at regional, national and international levels.  Amongst his achievements is the passage ofthe Dartmoor Commons Act 1985.  Maywyn Wilkinson has been a Dartmoor National Park AuthorityVoluntary Warden since July 1993 and prior to this picked up litter in the Dart valley area and around Buckfastleigh.  She has put in two mornings litter-picking every week at Newbridge and Deeper Marsh every summer and one day throughout the winter.  Maywyn has also worked tirelessly for the welfare of the livestock of Dartmoor, through her involvement with the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society (DLPS).

The Dartmoor Preservation Association is kindly associated with the Edward Morshead Award.  This year the Dartmoor Preservation Association Shield, in recognition of the best contribution by young people to National Park purposes on Dartmoor, will be presented to Dunsford Community Primary School.  The School’s Playground Equipment Project aimed to maximise the use and enjoyment of the school’s external space in part providing equipment made from locally sourced sustainable wood which in turn helped to promote deeper understanding and appreciation of the special qualities of Dartmoor.

In coming to their decisions the judges were impressed by the wide range of activities carried out by individuals, groups and organisations, all for the benefit of Dartmoor. They acknowledged the contribution and achievements of all the entries nominated for the Award.

The Award is made in memory of Edward Morshead, Chairman of the Dartmoor National Park Committee from 1985 to 1989. He died in office.  He spent much time on the ground, committed to farming and the conservation of the landscape. Mrs Sue Morshead will be attending the Award ceremony.

Ends

For further information

John Weir, Head of External Affairs, Dartmoor National Park Authority

Mike Nendick, Communications Officer, Dartmoor National Park Authority

Tel: (01626) 832093

Notes for Editors

Media representatives are invited to attend the Award ceremony which takes place on Tuesday 12 July  at Dartmoor National Park Authority Headquarters, Parke, Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ13 9JQ. Please arrive by 2.00 pm.

Under the Award scheme, nominations and entries are accepted from any Devon resident, or County based professional or voluntary body.  Individual projects of a practical nature contributing to landscape quality, ecological or archaeological/cultural conservation, or to enjoyment and understanding, can be entered.  Nominations can also be made for outstanding individual, or corporate, contributions to Dartmoor and the National Park purposes. 

There are three separate prizes within the Award Scheme:

First prize - a specially commissioned trophy, to be held for two years, and a cash prize of £250.

Second prize - £150.

Third prize - £100.

A certificate and permanent photographic memento for each Award winner will also be presented.

The Dartmoor Preservation Association (external link, opens new window) section of the Award comprises a shield, to be retained for two years, and a cash prize.  All entries received by the National Park Authority that relate to projects undertaken by young people are automatically considered.

Dartmoor National Park Authority’s purposes under the Environment Act 1995 are:

•    to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park;

•    to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the area by the public.

In carrying out this work, we are also required to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the National Park.

Agendas for full Dartmoor National Park Authority meetings and Dartmoor National Park Authority planning meetings are available on the Authority's web site.You can receive an e-mail notification each time a News Release is issued by the Dartmoor National Park Authority. Subscribe to Dartmoor National park Authority News.

For News Releases from all UK National Parks visit www.nationalparks.gov.uk (external website, opens new window)

There are 15 members of the National Parks family in the UK: Brecon Beacons, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, Pembrokeshire Coast, Snowdonia, South Downs, Yorkshire Dales, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, the Cairngorms and the Broads.  National Parks are of special value to the whole nation because of their great beauty, their wildlife and cultural interests and the opportunities they offer for quiet enjoyment.  However, they are not nationally owned - the land is in the hands of many landowners or occupiers including farmers.  Over 34,500 people live in Dartmoor National Park and many millions of visits are made to it each year.

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Page last updated: 05 Feb 2013