Volunteers with a South Hams charity have begun the annual search for seeds to be used to reforest Dartmoor and the surrounding area with native woodland.
South Brent’s Moor Trees has been working since 1999 to return the moor to what it says is its natural state - significantly more wooded than it is today.
Part of the rewilding movement, the charity does not want to reintroduce large predators to Devon. Instead, it imagines a ’wild heart’ of Dartmoor, where woodlands coexist with grazing and recreation.
August marks the start of the annual seed collecting season for Moor Trees and its volunteers. They have now started the summer search for nuts, berries and acorns from native trees around Dartmoor, which are processed and planted in local nurseries.
Once germinated, the fruits of the volunteers’ labours provide the native trees for the charity’s planting programme.
More than 20 volunteers have been helping Moor Trees so far this summer, visiting sites on and around the moor each Sunday looking for good berry crops on rowan, hawthorn and wild cherry trees. Hunting grounds include Badworthy, Ugborough, Blackadon and Deancombe as well as further afield, near Bovey Tracey and at Hembury.
From September, the focus will turn to acorns, which are sought in the ancient oak woods that survive in the river valleys of the Dart, Teign and Plym.
Moor Trees director Graham Burton said: "Each year we gather the essential seeds for our nursery operations, ensuring that the trees we plant in the winter are locally sourced and grown.
"This produces trees suited to the conditions in the area and their success rate is much better than with commercially grown seedlings. We can only do this with the support of the landowners and the effort and energy of our volunteers."
Moor Trees is based in South Brent but welcomes new volunteers from all over South Devon to join the Sunday outings, or help process the seeds and plant them in the nurseries at Dartington and Diptford on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.