Campaigners laid down the challenge to Prince William to re-wild Dartmoor by carrying a giant symbolic gauntlet to the Duchy of Cornwall offices in Princetown this weekend.
A procession of concerned residents and grassroots campaigners marched to and from North Hessary Tor carrying banners calling on all landowners to 'Make it Wild or Make It Ours' yesterday (Saturday).
The protesters, painted and dressed as colourful mythical 'green' characters, sang songs accompanied by a drummer and a small folk band and green-clad druid-style supporters. They listened to speakers backing the call on Prince William to live up to his promises and his own calls to the world to support moves to slow climate change.
The event was organised by Wild Card environmental pressure group. Spokesman Andrew Smith said: "We are urging al landowners, including Prince William and the owner of the Duchy estate, 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 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. I hope it shows Prince William and the other landowners we are serious also."
Poppy Newton-Clare, dressed in rural costume, said: "I've been through some dark times, I've been homeless and needed mending. Nature and Dartmoor is the place for me to heal. Now Dartmoor's wildlife and nature needs mending to support us and what we've done to the world with climate changing as a result. The Royal Family and other landowners are changing their attitudes, the Queen did such a lot to support the environment. We hope to bring them with us and let them know there's a growing number of ordinary people who care about the moors and they need to adapt to improve the environment."
Wild Card is calling on Prince William to publicly commit to restore the Rainforest, regenerate Dartmoor’s temperate rainforests and other broadleaved woodland, restore the bogs and heaths, restore and maintain Dartmoor’s internationally important blanket bogs, valley mires and heaths and put life and colour back in the fields.
Also restore Dartmoor’s meadows, bring back wild animals by reintroduce keystone species wherever possible (such as beavers, wildcats, and pine martens) and restore and increase the populations of key species (such as curlews and high brown fritillaries)5.
And pay and support landowners and farmers to produce nature as well as food to and leave the National Park better off than before.
A Wild Card spokesman said: "Without a public commitment to take these steps to restore nature on his land, we ask that it be released into public ownership. Dartmoor’s nature has been dying for decades. Almost all of its protected nature sites are in poor condition. Dartmoor’s blanket bogs are drying out and the peat is eroding. They are losing their precious flowers and mosses.
"The heathers and bilberry once so characteristic of Dartmoor are largely gone.. It’s precious temperate rainforests are not regenerating. We are losing species. Ring ouzel, curlew, lapwing have now largely disappeared as breeding birds on Dartmoor..
"And 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."