Hoyle Copse was bequeathed to Stoke Gabriel Parish Council in 1999 for the ‘quiet enjoyment of the villagers’ by a long time resident, Miss Sheila Francis Birch. The site embraces a total area of 7.17 acres consisting of mature woodland, older coppiced areas, unmanaged woodland, a limestone quarry and limekiln and about 1.5 acres of neglected grassland.
There was only one unwelcoming entrance over private ground and site access was extremely difficult due to many years’ growth of brambles, scrub and thorn.
After consultation with Devon Wildlife Trust, South Hams District Council and the Archaeological Officer of Devon County Council a management plan was drawn up to improve;
Safety (of trees and existing buildings)
Access and general appearance
Biodiversity and wildlife
A programme of clearing, replanting and monitoring of all flora was also drawn up to assess the impact of these measures.
Over the past 11 years, groups of volunteers have worked hard to achieve most of the initial aims, making the copse an area of renewed growth and an asset to village life. Clearing the glades of old wood has enabled trees to flourish, and encouraged a new and abundant growth of wild flowers. The cleared paths and improved access make this an area much used by grateful village residents, adults and children alike.
Future plans include monitoring changes in biodiversity and continuing the 7-year plan of re-coppicing of the hazel woods.