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These rich habitats are home to a plethora of pollution-sensitive lichens; organisms formed from a partnership between algae and fungi. The clean damp air blowing in off the sea and across the Biosphere Reserve provides ideal growing conditions. More.
Rare within Devon with sites on the Morte Point headland between Marsland and Clovelly and between Combe Martin and Foreland Point near Lynmouth. Coastal heath tends to occur in a mosaic of semi natural habitat which includes scrub and bracken. Dwarf shrubs like heather and gorse are a prominent component.
This increasingly important habitat is unique to south west England and is increasingly rare. As well as being a home to rare wildlife such as otters, dormice and the marsh fritillary butterfly, they help prevent flooding by soaking up water and then releasing it gradually into rivers and streams and are of great economic value. (see research papers on this site)
The majority of the area covered by the Biosphere Reserve is a rural landscape dominated by agriculture. Much of this farmland is of significant wildlife value.A unique feature within the Biosphere Reserve is Braunton “Great Field” which is a hedgeless tract of arable land, some 146 ha in extent, lying between Braunton village on the west and the reclaimed marshlands of the River Taw.
The bed of the estuary is home to some very special creatures including tiny pea crabs that live inside mussel shells, mud living lugworms and hydrobia snails that graze on its surface when the tide goes out. The mudflats are packed with nutrients and can support many millions of these tiny creatures that are themselves food for wading birds like curlew, godwit and redshank. Up to 20,000 birds have been counted in a single day. The salt marshes are nationally rare habitats and effective sea defences. Estuary research reports
Parkland and Wood Pasture
These are historic places of old trees and open grazed grassland that often date back many hundreds of years. They are often associated with country houses and estates and are a distinctive element of both the the Biosphere Reserve's landscape and cultural heritage.
Lundy Island is England’s first Marine Conservation Zone and is important for the variety of soft corals and underwater cliff set species at the northern edge of their range such as the Sunset Cup Coral. The rocky foreshore around Bideford Bay shares some of the same characteristics as Lundy whilst the sediments and mega ripples of sand on the seabed are home to a very special mix of bottom dwelling invertebrates, important populations of rays, lobster and crab. More
Rivers and Streams
River and stream catchments are the basis of the Biosphere Reserve's boundary. They link the coast with inland areas and are a habitat for many iconic and rare species such as otters.
The rocky foreshore habitats of the northern Devon coast, many of which are inaccessible by foot, are among the richest in Britain and are home to a diverse and fascinating range of plants and animals. Research into the distribution of the reef building honeycombe work (Sabellaria) in the Biosphere.
Braunton and Northam Burrows are the best places to see this habitat. Braunton Burrows is internationally recognised as one of the finest dune systems in the northern hemisphere. It is an amazingly rich habitat with hundreds of flowering plant species and associated animals.
Species Rich Hedgerows
The many, many miles of Devon hedges that criss-cross this area are amongst the very best in the world.Truly, they are one of its world class features. Not only are they a haven for wildlife, but they tell the history of the landscape and are intimately entwined with its culture. From dense, well-tr
immed lines of blackthorn, hawthorn and hazel shrubs on small banks, to large overgrown hedgebanks containing mature ash and oak, It is estimated that there are around 20,000 miles (32,000 km) of Devon hedges in the Biosphere. Research managing hedges for firewood and woodfuel stocks in the Biosphere
Towns and Villages
Wildife is not confined to the countryside and can be found in association with with people in urban areas. Playing fields, gardens and parks provide large areas of green space that can be valuable wildlife habitat.Whilst the area has fewer urban centres compared to other parts of the country there are many towns and villages scattered across the area.
Orchards are an important part of north Devon's agriculture, landscape and culture. Traditional orchards tend to be of good wildlife value and of great beauty. Mazzard orchards are a traditional cherry variety grown in the Landkey area on land called Mazzard Greens and they are one of the orchard types of particular interest in north Devon.
More information about these habitats can be found in the Biosphere's Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)
The UNESCO biosphere global network connects communities around the world who are pioneering a positive future for people and nature. Together, the network covers over 5% of the Earth’s surface and is home to over 250m people.