LOCAL campaigners have announced plans to march on Dartmoor on September 30, calling on Prince William to restore nature to his land.

The campaign group Wild Card have said that if the Prince fails to make a meaningful public commitment, they will call for the land to be released into public ownership.

The plans have formed in response to the Duchy’s recent announcement which promised to double the size of Wistman’s Wood, a three-hectare fragment of ancient woodland on Dartmoor, by 2040.

According to their website, the Duchy of Cornwall owns 27,300 acres of land across Dartmoor.

Elena Grice, a campaigner at Wild Card, said: ‘We welcomed the announcement from the Prince of Wales regarding the expansion of Wistman’s Wood, as it shows the Prince and Duchy have paid attention to the more than 70,000 members of the public who signed the petition calling on them to take action.

‘However, out of the Duchy of Cornwall’s 27,300 hectares of Dartmoor landholdings, Wistman’s Wood equates to just 0.01% of their land!

‘In the face of wildlife’s catastrophic decline, this is a trifling gesture.’

Hazel Draper, communications co-ordinator for Wild Card, said: ‘Our announcement to ‘March for a Wild Dartmoor’ this September is an invitation to all local people who care for nature: come together and challenge our biggest landowners to do more.

‘Our collective action is working! Now is the time to keep up the pressure and throw down the gauntlet to Prince William: either make it wild, or make it ours.’

On Saturday, September 30, they said local people are invited to march across Dartmoor to the Duchy of Cornwall offices. The day will feature face painting, performances, music and local folklore, as well as speeches from local nature experts and scientists.

The UK has some of the best climatic conditions for temperate rainforests in Europe, with Dartmoor home to some of the best surviving examples in England. Much of the Duchy land on Dartmoor is classed as special scientific interest (SSSI), but it is in poor ecological condition despite the Duchy receiving a £23 million-a-year income from the land.

Wild Card are calling on Prince William to make public commitments in five key areas: restoring the rainforest, restoring the bogs and heaths, restoring the meadows, reintroducing keystone species, and paying farmers to produce nature as well as food.

Without a meaningful commitment, the campaigners will ask that the land be released into public ownership, so that local communities can work with farmers to restore nature on Dartmoor.

Farmers, say Wild Card, have suffered under unfair subsidy systems and been forced into making decisions with negative ecological consequences.

They point to words by Prince William that ‘we can repair and regenerate our planet in this critical decade’, and call on him to create a system on his lands whereby farmers and nature can thrive together.