North Devon is loved by residents and visitors alike for its wonderful landscapes and nature, and recognised by UNESCO as the UK’s first modern Biosphere Reserve. However, the environment here is under intense pressure from rapid development and intensive land use. Nature is dwindling fast and needs urgent action. That’s why North Devon’s conservation groups are collectively planning to launch a new Pledge for Nature! initiative in Autumn 2019, but we can’t do it without your help.
Why is this so urgent?
North Devon’s local economy of agriculture, tourism, forestry and fisheries depends on the natural environment, and our natural systems are also crucial for tackling climate change and safeguarding future generations. Cuckoos, lapwings and curlews, once widespread across our farmed landscape, are heading towards local extinction. Salmon and freshwater pearl mussels in the Taw and Torridge rivers are in grave decline. Swifts, swallows, hedgehogs, bees and butterflies are struggling to thrive as they once did. More than 92% of our iconic flower-rich culm grassland has been destroyed over the past 100 years.
The declines of these “canaries” of our natural systems should be a wake-up call for everyone. Immediate action is needed to help North Devon’s nature to flourish again in our farmland, gardens, rivers and open spaces.
How can you help?
Our challenge is a big one. Small bands of dedicated volunteers, farmers and conservationists are already working to conserve nature – but their efforts are not enough. We truly believe it can only be solved by galvanising many more people who know and love the area in a coordinated action to make more space for nature. By donating today for the Pledge for Nature! initiative – you will be helping to:
- improve nature in pastures and arable land - benefiting wildflowers and insects and helping birds like cuckoos, barn owls and skylarks
- plant more trees and woodlands and manage our hedges better – to help a myriad of wildlife and the fight against climate change
- make gardens and public spaces more wildlife-friendly – so that butterflies and bees, hedgehogs and slow-worms can flourish
- improve the quality of our rivers, streams and estuary - so they become thriving ecosystems, once more full of salmon, seatrout, freshwater pearl mussels and other species
In this broader effort, we’ll focus on the protection of Devon’s most special species of which 45 (such as dormouse, willow tit and Devon whitebeam) are found in the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere.
Engaging communities on this scale takes lots of time and energy, so we are also asking the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a grant of £6 for every £1 you can contribute. This will ensure at least three years of intensive action, starting this autumn.
Together we can guarantee a brighter future for North Devon’s natural environment so that generations to come can continue to enjoy this wonderful place. But we need your financial support now to ensure this happens. Please donate whatever you can – and tell your friends! Thank you.
Once the Pledge for Nature! project is launched in Autumn 2019, we plan to issue a call for action each quarter with various projects to engage the community in voluntary actions for nature. Examples of actions are: “give 10% of your lawn over to a wildflower meadow”, “trim your farm hedges every 3 years rather than every year”, put up a nestbox for swifts”, “join a community tree-planting team”. Individuals will be able to pledge their action on a map-based web site, where they will also find technical advice and support.
This Crowdfunder, run by the North Devon Biosphere Foundation, is endorsed by the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Partnership. Pledge for Nature! will be implemented through the Biosphere Nature Improvement Group (Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, Devon County Council, Devon Hedge Group, Devon Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency, Exmoor National Park, Forestry Commission, National Trust, Natural England, North Devon Coast AONB, North Devon District Council, North Devon Biosphere Reserve, RSPB, Westcountry Rivers Trust, Woodland Trust).
The North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve includes the Taw and Torridge river systems and all the land that drains into them from Exmoor to Dartmoor and out to the North Devon Coast as far as Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel. The core area is the spectacular dune system of Braunton Burrows
Culm Grassland -David Chamberlain
Dormouse - Rob Wolton