North Devon Biosphere Reserve
North Devon Biosphere Reserve was the first in the UK to be extended to meet UNESCO's new criteria for biosphere reserves set out in the Seville Strategy. The biosphere reserve is located on the estuary of the Taw and Torridge Rivers. It is active in the manufacturing, agriculture and fishing industries. The biosphere reserve has coastal dune systems, marshland and woodland.
What goes on there?
About 155,000 people live in the biosphere reserve, as of 2002, who are mainly engaged in services, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing. The biosphere reserve is active in getting the community involved in education and volunteering and has trails for the public to explore the area. Traditional land use practices are still maintained today in North Devon's Biosphere Reserve. Grazing by Soay sheep and cattle on saltmarshes was practiced for more than a century and still maintains the marshes in a condition suitable for wintering wildfowl. The biosphere reserve is active in working with farmers, for instance the Catchment Sensitive Farming Project helps farmers understand how their land use has effects further downstream. Traditional local fishery harvests Atlantic salmon sea trout and sea bass which are species that rely on the site as part of their lifecycle. Also mussel fishery and the harvest of ulva and laver are still practiced in a traditional way. The North Devon's Biosphere Reserve participates in the Devon Marine Conservation Zone County Group for theFinding Sanctuary partnership that looks to establish Marine Conservation Zones in the seas around south-west England as part of a wider network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
What makes it unique?
Braunton Burrows is internationally recognised as one of the finest dune systems in the northern hemisphere. It is an amazingly rich habitat with over 470 species of flowering plants, several Red Data species and a unique research history. The catchment area of the reserve includes the enigmatic Culm Grasslands; a prticualr kind of Rhos Pasture whic is only found in the north Devon area.
North Devon Biosphere Reserve includes Lundy Island, England's first Marine Protected Area. As well as seals and variety of other marine species, Lundy's seas are also home to species of plants and insects that are found no where else.
Where is it?
The core of the biosphere is located on the estuary of the Taw and Torridge Rivers and transition area stretches across most of north Devon from Holsworthy to Chulmleigh, Okehampton to Lynton, taking all of the river basins draining to the north Devon coast.
Location: The Biosphere Reserve stretches across most of North Devon from Holsworthy to Chulmleigh, Okehampton to Lynton on the Taw and Torridge river estuaries.
Ecosystems: Temperate broadleaf forests or woodlands including coastal/marine component
Terrain and habitats: The core area comprises an active dune system. Other habitats include a rocky foreshore, mud and sand flats, saltmarshes of various types, lowland farmland, grazing marsh, coastal heath, back-shore marsh as well as woodlands.
Vegetation: The biosphere reserve has the internationally important culm grasslands habitat that is unique to south west England and is increasingly rare and scarce. As well as being home to rare wildlife like otters, dormice and the marsh fritillary butterfly, they help prevent flooding by soaking up water, holding on to it and releasing it gradually into the rivers. The Western Oak woodlands found on the reserve are a rich habitat for a plethora of pollution-sensitive lichens, strange organisms that are a partnership of algae and fungi.
Size: Total: 526088 ha
Designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1976, extended in 2002, Periodic Review 2016
Protection Classifications in the Biosphere Reserve (all zones)
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB )
National Park (NP)
Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)
For more information visit the website for North Devon's Biosphere Reserve