Conservation initiatives at the blue pool

We recently caught up with our Estate Manager, David, to get the inside scoop on what his team is doing to support conservation and wildlife here at The Blue Pool.

What conservation efforts are currently underway?

The Blue Pool is now half way into a ten-year countryside stewardship agreement, a government-funded land management initiative. The primary objective is to enhance and maintain the lowland heath habitat, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on the Furzebrook Estate. Our main focus is to reduce and remove invasive species from the estate, which, if left unmanaged, would destroy the current heathland structure.

Are there any projects aimed at preserving the local wildlife and plant species?

One of our top priorities is tackling invasive Scotts Pine and Rhododendron ponticum. It might sound odd to remove trees and plants as part of conservation, but these species can seriously harm the heath, which many local animals and plants rely on. Recently, we cleared a section of ‘Witches Wood’ of rhododendron. This opened up a beautiful area, allowing us to start woodland planting schemes and breathe new life into this forgotten part of the estate.

Estates team removing plants

Have you noticed any significant changes in the biodiversity of the area?

We’ve already seen some fantastic changes! A few years ago, we cleared a pine woodland on our eastern boundary. We then introduced Dartmoor Ponies to graze and manage the area. Since then, we’ve watched the bare ground transform into a vibrant mix of heathland plants. This, in turn, has encouraged rare wildlife, like adders and sand lizards, to return.

Dartmoor ponies grazing in the field

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your conservation work?

One of our biggest hurdles is balancing our conservation work with public perception. Many people believe that wild landscapes should be left alone to rewild. However, lowland heath is a man-made landscape that requires human intervention to survive. We tackle this by being open about our work and educating visitors on why it’s necessary.

What sustainable practices have you implemented to ensure the longevity of The Blue Pool?

Sustainability is at the heart of what we do. We remove hundreds of Scotts Pine trees and repurpose them using our on-site sawmill, turning them into fences, benches, playground equipment, and more. This reduces our carbon footprint by using materials from our own estate. We also avoid treating our timber with chemicals, accepting a shorter lifespan in exchange for a more eco-friendly approach. Additionally, we use felled or fallen timber for firewood, which powers our biomass boiler to provide heating and hot water to the Tearooms and other buildings.

What are your future plans?

We’re working with Natural England and the Forestry Commission on future plans. One focus is enhancing the biodiversity of our native broadleaf woodlands, areas that our visitors don’t often see. By varying the age structure of the woodland understory, we aim to preserve these precious areas for future generations.

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue our journey to make The Blue Pool a haven for wildlife and a beautiful place for everyone to enjoy.

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