The Devana Centre for Environmental Recovery
Launched in 2023, and named after ‘Via Devana’, the Roman road which passed through Cambridgeshire, and ‘Devana’ the Slavic goddess of wild nature, the centre at West Wickham site will be dedicated to increasing long-term environmental and societal value.
The initial rewilding aims of the project are to:
- Expand the current woodland cover with native broadleaf trees
- Enhance the retained woodland and grassland to increase biodiversity value and resilience
- Create mixed scrub habitat, species rich grassland habitat, and wildlife ponds
- Manage the existing hedgerows for nature
Key objectives for Devana:
Today, the UK’s natural environment is at a crisis point, with nearly half of its biodiversity lost since the Industrial Revolution. The 100-acre West Wickham site is dedicated to making change with three clear 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 shrub species
- A wide variety of native wild flowers and grasses
These will help in 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.
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.
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 and 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.
The Devana site
Chris Bawtree, Nature Recovery Director, introduces Devana and explores the location, the baseline, and the initial proposals.
Baseline Ecology Survey
Our Baseline ecology survey and assessments, using the Natural England Biodiversity Metric 4.0, releveled the following Habitats alongside 2.8km of established hedgerow:
- Cropland 34.5 ha
- Arable filed margins 1.5 ha
- Woodland 2.0 ha
- Grassland 2.0 ha
Its Time to Act | Why Business Must Step Up
With just 53% of our natural wildlife and fauna left from before the industrial revolution, familiar sights like the hedgehog, dormouse or red squirrel are now rare. The turtle dove, once a commonly found bird in England, is the fastest declining bird species in the UK and on the brink of extinction following a 98% reduction in the last 40 years.
There is a clear need for business to get involved to help develop solutions. We’ve spoken to biodiversity experts from across government, technology, finance, property and consultancy to ask them what they are doing to help restore biodiversity. Many businesses want to do more but are held back by challenges like not having sufficient nature-related data. This is where partnerships between different businesses, sectors and government can be powerful, lead the way and make a movement for others to do the same.