THE High Sheriff of Somerset paid a special visit to key Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) sites to tour its tree nursery and public rights of way furniture making operation.

Robert Drewett was shown around the ‘Seed to Sawmill’ operation at the authority's Exford depot and the off-grid Pinkery Outdoor Education Centre, near Simonsbath, learning more about access and education work and recent investments helping ENPA achieve its carbon neutral plans.

The visit comes as the ENPA celebrates its 70th anniversary.

The newly extended Exford ENPA Tree Nursery has been funded partly by grants from the Devon Environment Foundation and the Forestry Commission, but also from donations to the ‘CareMoor’ Woods and trees appeal, where native species of trees such as Sessile Oak are grown from ENPA gathered seeds.

It has been made with sustainable timber from local woodland.

Mr Drewett toured the highly sustainable sawmill and workshop, making signs and gates from locally sourced timber produced by conservation focussed woodland management.

At Pinkery, he checked out the centre’s wind turbine and biomass boiler which, along with a switch to electric vehicles and tools, is contributing to ENPA’s actions to cut climate-changing emissions.

He also learnt more about educational activities such as Young Rangers and discounted residential places at Pinkery for pupils in receipt of free school meals.

Mr Drewett said: “It’s been fascinating to learn about the wide range of projects ENPA are involved with and how they are leading by example in sustainable operations at their sites.

"A lot of hard work goes into preserving our national park, from rangers overseeing 1,000km of public paths and bridleways across Exmoor, to the locally made wooden gates, stiles and iconic signposts in the Exford depot workshop.

“Activities encouraging young people to connect with our national park, develop new skills and build confidence are also vital.

"I hope the team will continue to inspire future generations and help them develop a desire to care for and be part of Exmoor, to help sustain this special place for the next 70 years.”