One of Wistmans Woods' amazing trees
From small acorns...
Devon's oldest woodland, Wistmans Wood on Dartmoor, could soon grow bigger thanks to a replanting project.
It has taken hundreds of years for the twisted, moss-covered trees which make up Wistmans Wood to acquire their eerie, ancient, look.
The wood - now a small area beside the West Dart on Dartmoor - used to be very much bigger centuries ago.
The ancient woodland - Devon's oldest wood, dating back to prehistoric times - is a national nature reserve managed by Natural England.
Wistmans Wood is now a tiny area of woodland
Now, with the help of the charity, Moor Trees, acorns collected from the woodland are being potted, nurtured and replanted out on the moor.
The young trees will be planted on the west side of the West Dart - opposite Wistmans Wood.
Andy Guy from Natural England said: "It's a site which we have wanted to expand for a number of years. We'd like it to be bigger than the tiny fragment that it is now.
"There's no doubt that this kind of woodland was more extensive on Dartmoor in the past.
"Ideally we'd like to double the size of woodland, with planting on the west side of the West Dart - so we would have a mirror image of Wistmans Wood."
There are 47 types of moss in the wood
The wood once covered the whole of the West Dart Valley, right from the Ice Age to the settlement of prehistoric man. Much of the wood was then cleared for agriculture.
The habitat which remains is unique, which is why just ordinary acorns won't do for the planting.
The small wood is also home to 47 species of moss and liverwort and 119 types of lichen.
Members of the public helped to collect more than 1,000 acorns from Wistmans Wood on 28 October 2007.
Adam Griffin from Moor Trees said: "It's important we maintain the integrity of the woodland here - it's unique and distinctive.
A silhouette of a tree at Wistmans Wood
"The wood is internationally important, not just because of its historical position but because it holds some internationally important species of mosses, lichens and liverworts.
"It's very exciting to think we can start a new woodland here."
However, Moor Trees are being careful not to collect too much from Wistmans Wood, as it's hoped natural regeneration will occur there, too.
As well as oak trees, the new woodland will also include hawthorn, holly and rowan berries collected from Wistmans Wood.
It might take hundreds of years for the new woodland to grow into another Wistmans Wood, but it's a start!
Flick through our Wistmans Wood photo gallery, and take a look at our video featuring a Seth Lakeman track, Cape Clear, taken from his album about Dartmoor entitled Kitty Jay.
last updated: 27/02/2008 at 14:05