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HomeEnvironmentThe Devana Centre for Environmental Recovery

The Devana Centre for Environmental Recovery

Ground Control launches new The Devana Centre for Environmental Recovery in West Wickham, Cambridgeshire.

Devana will build back UK’s natural recovery, champion Cambridgeshire’s regional objectives, provide jobs and give greater access to nature for the local community

Named after ‘Via Devana’, the Roman road which passed through Cambridgeshire, and ‘Devana’ the Slavic goddess of wild nature, the centre forms the latest example of Ground Control’s long-standing commitment to building a network for nature recovery through direct action.

The Centre will be Ground Control’s second site, adding to its 296-acre Wildfell Centre for Environmental Recovery in Braintree, Essex.

Today, the UK’s natural environment is at crisis point, with nearly half of biodiversity lost since the industrial revolution. As such, the new 100-acre West Wickham site will be dedicated to increasing environmental and societal value for generations to come.

Key objectives at the Devana Centre for Environmental Recovery for the site include:

  • Supporting the region’s objectives – Devana represents a key part of Natural Cambridgeshire’s ambition to double land managed for nature across the region from 8%, one of the lowest in the country, to 16%, the national average. The new location will provide a home for 20-25 native tree species, 15-20 native shrubs, a wide variety of native wild flowers and grasses, creating valuable habitats for a range of other fauna such as pollinators, birds, bats, mammals and reptiles. The land will also provide corridors for biodiversity to spread by linking directly into the Cambridgeshire Green Infrastructure network via woodland and hedgerows on site and the neighbouring Semi-Natural Ancient Woodland Rand’s Wood.
  • Reducing carbon footprints – The new project will convert arable land of low biodiversity value to high biodiversity value, species-rich habitats such as woodland, scrub, grassland, ponds and hedgerows. The project will reduce the land’s carbon footprint by eliminating intensive agriculture practices, absorbing and storing carbon through permanent vegetation cover and building up carbon stocks in the soil.
  • Positively impacting nearby communities – Devana has been designed with the local community firmly in mind – three public footpaths run through the land giving local villages of West Wickham, West Wratting, Weston Green & Balsham direct access to nature. The project will also prioritise delivering jobs to those in the area, with local agricultural contractors used for the majority of the habitat creation and management works.

Chris Bawtree, Woodland Creation Lead at Ground Control, said: “The incessant destruction of the UK’s flora and fauna has a direct relation to our wellbeing and future survival. Without the flora and fauna that make up our delicate ecosystems, practically all the food and clean water we need to survive is at risk. We are pleased to be building on the success of Wildfell with this new centre and leading by example in building back nature across the UK.”

Jason Knights, Managing Director at Ground Control added: “We are committed to reversing the decline of biodiversity in the UK in collaboration with experts and the wider private sector, which owns around 18% of land in the UK. Together, we can lead by example to gain actionable insights that transform environments and inspire wider change.”

The site announcement coincides with the third edition of Green Gains Live, Ground Control’s annual summit which brings together key stakeholders to discuss ways to better utilise land to support environmental recovery.

At Devana, Ground Control is currently undertaking baseline surveys including habitat & ecology, soil nutrients & carbon, trees & hedgerows to inform optimum habitat types to create and provide a science-based starting point to measure progress against. This follows similar detailed surveys at The Wildfell Centre for Environmental Recovery with partners such as The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust aimed at reversing the loss of plants and pollinators.

Photo credit: Ground Control

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