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January 18, 2024

Network Rail and Okehampton United Charities Join Forces to Save Endangered Dormice

Network Rail and Okehampton United Charities Join Forces to Save Endangered Dormice

In a heartening collaboration, Network Rail and Okehampton United Charities have forged a partnership to secure the future of endangered hazel dormice in Devon. The initiative involves leasing seven acres of unplanted grassland for 35 years, marking a significant step towards wildlife protection and increased biodiversity in the region. The two fields, situated on the outskirts of Okehampton along the Dartmoor line, offer a unique opportunity to create new habitats for hazel dormice, contributing to their conservation. The Dartmoor line, reopened to passengers in 2021 after nearly half a century, further underscores the commitment to environmental stewardship.

Creating Sanctuaries for Rare Hazel Dormice

The focal point of this collaboration is the establishment of new habitats for hazel dormice, a species facing endangerment. Okehampton United Charities' decision to lease the grassland to Network Rail showcases a shared commitment to preserving the local ecosystem. The two fields adjacent to the Dartmoor line will be transformed into sanctuaries for these rare creatures, providing them with the conducive environments needed for survival and reproduction.

A Lease for Biodiversity

The 35-year lease agreement between Okehampton United Charities and Network Rail is a testament to the long-term dedication to wildlife preservation. Beyond dormice conservation, the initiative involves planting native trees and vegetation to create a biodiverse habitat. This multifaceted approach ensures that the leased land becomes a thriving ecosystem, supporting various species and contributing to the overall health of the environment.

Revitalising the Dartmoor Line

The location of the leased fields along the Dartmoor line adds another layer of significance to this conservation effort. The Dartmoor line, reopened to passengers in 2021, represents a triumph in railway restoration. Its connection to Exeter not only facilitates transportation but also aligns with a broader commitment to environmental responsibility. The partnership between Network Rail and Okehampton United Charities exemplifies how railway projects can go beyond their primary function and actively contribute to ecological conservation.

A Symbol of Environmental Stewardship

The collaboration between Network Rail and Okehampton United Charities serves as a model for corporate and community partnerships in environmental conservation. By prioritising the well-being of endangered species like hazel dormice, the initiative highlights the broader responsibility that organisations bear towards the environment. The 35-year commitment reflects a dedication to the long-term health and sustainability of the local ecosystem.


The leasing of seven acres of grassland by Okehampton United Charities to Network Rail marks a commendable effort in the preservation of wildlife and the enhancement of biodiversity in Devon. With a focus on creating sanctuaries for endangered hazel dormice and promoting a biodiverse habitat, this collaboration serves as an inspiring example of how public and private entities can come together for environmental stewardship. As the Dartmoor line continues to connect communities, it also becomes a corridor for the conservation of rare species, exemplifying the harmonious coexistence of infrastructure development and ecological responsibility.

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