‘MAKE it wild or make it ours’, was the demand made by about 200 campaigners as they rallied together in Princetown to march for a wild Dartmoor.
Campaigners met at the Dartmoor Visitor Centre and proceeded to walk to South Hessary Tor before heading to the Dutchy of Cornwall’s office.
Founded in 1337, the Dutchy of Cornwall is an enormous estate owned by Prince William that encompasses over 27,000 hectares of Dartmoor National Park.
Although the Dutchy has committed to some initiatives, such as doubling the size of Wistman’s Wood by 2040, Wild Card, the group organising the event say more could be done.
Spokesman Andrew Smith said: ‘We are urging all landowners, including Prince William to improve the biodiversity, including trees, plants and wildlife through careful environmental management on Dartmoor.
‘He is the custodian of the land and its future lies in his hands. Dartmoor needs to be looked after so it can survive through the climate crisis.
Dartmoor is a big carbon capture from the atmosphere and has the potential to be even more effective with our help.
‘Prince William has already made a gesture in response to our campaign with Wistman’s Wood, but it is only a gesture and he needs to do much more to convince all of the people here in Princetown that he is serious.
‘We’re so pleased at the turnout and strength of feeling here today.’
Wild Card campaigners are calling on Prince William to restore Dartmoor’s rainforests, bogs, heaths and meadows as well as bring back wild animals to the moor and pay farmers to produce nature as well as food.
Wild Card says that if this does not happen, the land should be returned to public ownership.
Jules Brennan, who lives near Moretonhampsted, has lived on the moor for almost his entire life.
‘The way the moor is owned and managed feels like it’s from a different era,’ said Jules. ‘I think that’s where a lot of the environmental problems start.
‘But I want to see a healthier wilder moor for my children,’ he continued.
‘To see an area of Dartmoor given back to nature by the Royal Family wouldn’t just be good for our environment and economy, it would be a very symbolic moment for how the most powerful people can work with rather than against nature.’
A Wild Card spokesperson added: ‘Despite millions of pounds of funding for restoration over three decades, nature continues to struggle and local farmers, who will be central to restoring nature, face an uncertain future.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Nature deserves better, and so do we. Whilst some good work is being done, it’s vital that we redouble our efforts, and seriously level up our ambition.
A spokesperson for The Duchy of Cornwall said: ‘Sustainable stewardship is at the heart of everything the Duchy does. We have championed the preservation of natural ecosystems for over fifty years and are constantly looking for new ways to continue improving biodiversity, conservation and public access to green spaces.
‘Our ongoing work includes naturally regenerating Wistman’s Wood on Dartmoor to double its size by 2040 and restoring 1200 hectares of degraded peatland in the area to its natural state by 2025.’