ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners from Devon staged a protest at Kensington Palace this morning, in response to the Duchy of Cornwall’s announcement earlier this month regarding the expansion of Wistman’s Wood on Dartmoor. 

Pictures from the campaign group Wild Card show a butler holding a platter of small potatoes, next to a card that reads ‘Prince William’s Small Potatoes’. 

The group, supported by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, also attached a banner to the gates of the palace which read: ‘0.01% WHAT ABOUT THE REST’.

The announcement from the Duchy, featured in the Mid-Devon Advertiser last week, pledged to regenerate the 3 hectares of forest in Wistman’s Wood by 2040 came after a petition launched.

The announcement followed a petition by campaign groups Wild Card and 38 Degrees that reached over 71,000 signatures, called on Prince William to ‘bring back Britain’s rainforests’ in His Royal Highness’s newly inherited estate.

However, the campaigners argue the recent announcement did not go far enough to restore this once mighty and unique environment.

Temperate rainforests are even rarer than tropical rainforests. Although they once covered a fifth of the UK, all along the west coast of Britain, the habitat was largely farmed and grazed out of existence over thousands of years. Temperate rainforests now cover just 1% of the country.

But these vanishingly rare habitats are some of the most biodiverse areas in Europe, and scientists say the development and growth of temperate rainforests is fundamental for nature’s recovery, stopping climate change and adapting to its impacts.

Wistman’s Woods is one of the finest fragments left, but accounts for just 0.01% of the 27,300 hectares that HRH The Prince of Wales owns across Dartmoor.

Ecologist and spokesperson for Wild Card, Emma Smart, said: ‘We’ve taken action today to highlight the disconnection between Prince William’s words and his cowardly actions. As the founder of the Eartshot prize he has shown he understands the urgent need to act on the nature and climate emergencies. 

‘The British people deserve better from the royal family, who earn a substantial private income from their land every year, farmers deserve real consultation and future-proof planning, and local communities - thousands of whom signed our petition - deserve to be taken seriously.’

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall calls for action

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, professional chef and one of the celebrity backers of the Wild Card campaign, has also voiced his opinions on the state of temperate rainforest on the Duchy’s land, and England more widely. 

Hugh said: ‘In inheriting the Duchy of Cornwall, Prince William has an enormous opportunity to resurrect one of the world’s rarest habitats and to walk the walk on his long-standing environmental advocacy. 

‘Decisive action by the Prince to expand the rainforest fragments still remaining on Dartmoor would be an act of boldest optimism in the face of the ever worsening nature crisis.’

A lifelong nature lover and Devon resident, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has long been an advocate for the protection and expansion of a wild Westcountry. 

Several years ago, Hugh pursued his fascination with the wildlife of the Westcountry through his BBC programme , Hugh’s Wild West, in which he he teamed up with the region’s most dedicated nature lovers. In the programme, Hugh visited many of Dartmoor’s rainforests to understand their significance.

Hugh added: ‘I really think Prince William could inspire a wave of rainforest restoration in Britain and beyond. By protecting and expanding these areas, the Prince could become a world-leading example of rainforest restoration.’