Hundreds of people laid down a giant gauntlet to Prince William in a symbolic gesture at a protest today in Princetown to demand he make more re-wilding improvements to Dartmoor — or 'hand it over to the ordinary people'.

Andrew Smith, of protest organisers Wild Card, said: "We've been lobbying the Royal Family and specifically Prince William, as the Prince of Wales and owner of the Duchy land on Dartmoor to make good the statements they keep making urging everyone to take action on climate change and to look after the environment.

"He has listened to us and has promised to double the size of Wistman's Wood, which is a rare example of a temperate rainforest habitat. But this is such a small amount, it is a mere gesture or 'small potatoes' as we call it.

"We are making several demands of the landowners, including the Duchy to improve the biodiversity of Dartmoor through several management means and to increase the number of trees. It's very heartening to see so many people and grassroots campaigners here today in solidarity. We hope this will be taken notice of by Prince William who will realise that he must do more to match his words.''

Rewilding protest princetown Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith, of Wild Card, lobbying Prince William at the Duchy Estate in Princetown (Tindle)

The Wild Card demands are for the Prince to publicly commit to:1 Restore the Rainforest Regenerate Dartmoor’s temperate rainforests and other broadleaved woodland2 Restore the Bogs & Heaths Restore and maintain Dartmoor’s internationally important blanket bogs, valley mires and heaths3 Put Life & Colour Back in the Fields Restore Dartmoor’s meadows 4 Bring Back Wild Animals Reintroduce keystone species wherever possible (such as beavers, wildcats, and pine martens) and restore and increase the populations of key species (such as curlews and high brown fritillaries)5 Pay Farmers to Produce Nature as well as Food Support farmers and other land managers on Dartmoor to produce nature as well as food, and leave the National Park better off than beforeWithout a public commitment to take these steps to restore nature on his land, we ask that it be released into public ownership.

Poppy Newton-Clare said: "I'm here because I have been homeless and been through dark times. Nature and especially Dartmoor are also going through dark times and it needs us all to stand up for the environment. I use nature to help me get through the down times in my life and we need to save it for the future from today."

Wild Card explains why the moor needs restoring:

Dartmoor’s nature has been dying for decades: ~ Almost all of its protected nature sites are in poor condition. ~ Dartmoor’s blanket bogs are drying out and the peat is eroding. They are losing their precious flowers and mosses. ~ The heathers and bilberry once so characteristic of Dartmoor are largely gone. ~ It’s precious temperate rainforests are not regenerating. ~ We are losing species. Ring ouzel, curlew, lapwing have now largely disappeared as breeding birds on Dartmoor. ~ And despite millions of pounds of funding for restoration over three decades, nature continues to struggle and local farmers, who will be central to restoring nature, face an uncertain future.But it doesn’t have to be this way. Nature deserves better, and so do we.Whilst some good work is being done, it’s vital that we redouble our efforts, and seriously level up our ambition.