Dawlish Park - Letts Safari's First Safari Park
This extraordinary eco safari park is inspiring a movement toward smaller-scale rewilding
Dawlish Park is Letts Safari’s first safari park, which was announced when we launched LettsSafari.com in June 2021. It is a 75 acre park at Letts Safari’s centre for rewilding in Mamhead Park, on the outskirts of Exeter. This special place is a model for rewilding safari parks and has achieved a number of firsts. The eco park removes around 75 tonnes of carbon a year.
It is one of the first successful smaller-scale rewilding safari parks - designed specifically to remove carbon and reverse the biodiversity crisis by restoring endangered wildlife and the natural habitats required to support them.
The place proves that smaller-scale safari parks can make as much of an ecological impact as larger parks by adopting an intensive ecosystem approach to wild spaces.
Dawlish park has also been a proving ground for specialist herbivores that were chosen for their ability to live wild and free in smaller-scale safari parks. They are not as big as the ones that exist in larger scale safaris and rewilding projects, such as red deer, elk, bison and wild cattle, but they make as significant an impact - enhancing and regenerating smaller landscapes.
Herbivores featuring in Dawlish Park include fallow deer, wild alpaca and badger faces.
The ecosystem design, habitat setup and the initial herbivores have created the right conditions for endangered wildlife to migrate to this eco haven. A sizeable variety of small, medium and large birds now flock to the park, alongside a wide range of bats, insects, invertebrates and wild mammals including foxes, badgers and dormice.
The original Letts Safari park has abundant wild grassland, a mature, ancient forest and newly planted woodland areas with around 5,000 trees. In between the young trees is a mix of scrub and wild grassland. The park is packed with fungi - sometimes referred to as the “circulatory system of the planet”.
The macro habitats common to rewilding ecosystem design are, at Dawlish Park, supported by hundreds of place specific mini-habitats that in turn nurture a wide variety of animal, plant life and fungi that drive biodiversity gains and carbon removal.
Technology will increasingly enable us to monitor progress and performance and bring the park into your home with Letts Safari +.
Dawlish park, and the wider Mamhead Park that it sits within, has a long history going back to the Domesday Book. It was an historic deer park with ancient trees and wild grasslands that roll down to the sea. It still has smugglers tunnels that run through it surrounded by a number of ancient follies.
The park, from early on, inspired a number of rewilding projects in the region - now more widely. Letts Safari was initially developed to enable people to visit and learn from Dawlish Park online - so that its approach could be implemented more widely. In just a few months since we launched the Letts Safari Network, we have seen the number of rewilding parks in our network going from one to four, with more in the pipeline.
We are even beginning to explore the development of Letts Safari parks in urban centres. We believe that urban rewilding represents a significant opportunity waiting to happen.
Letts Safari will always be indebted to Dawlish Park and all that it has given us. One day we hope to look back at this place as the springboard for a movement that spread rewilding safari parks and gardens far and wide - genuinely doing something about climate change.
We hope you can join us.
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