North Devon and Torridge Councils: North Devon Biosphere Nature Recovery Plan

Biosphere Reserves are established by individual countries and recognised by UNESCO to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science. North Devon's Biosphere Reserve is jointly funded by Devon County Council, North Devon Council and Torridge District Council. The Biosphere is launching an ambitious new Nature Recovery Plan as our contribution to tackling the ecological emergency here in northern Devon, aligning with the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and the Prime Minister’s pledge for 30% of the UK land to be protected by 2030. It sets out the priority actions required from 2021-2025 to move towards our 2030 Vision for nature’s recovery.

The challenge

Despite great efforts from many organisations and individuals across northern Devon since the area achieved UNESCO status more than 20 years ago (and indeed well before), with a few encouraging exceptions, nature continues to decline – a trend that began centuries ago but has accelerated since the 1960s. Today our natural habitats and wildlife have become highly degraded and our ecosystems are ceasing to function as they should. Business as usual will not solve the problems: a new ambitious approach to focus everyone onto agreed priorities is needed. That is what this plan is for.

The solution

The plan addresses the root causes of nature’s decline by prioritising making more space for nature where it will make most difference, and building nature’s recovery into productive farming and forestry across the landscape as well as in towns and villages. It will help address the climate emergency through increasing natural resilience and carbon storage and sequestration.

The plan presents actions to support communities and businesses, and particularly farmers and landowners/managers to be at the heart of nature’s recovery. Responsibility for promoting delivery of the actions lies with the Biosphere’s partners through its Nature Improvement Group which will monitor and report on implementation of the plan. Progress will be assessed annually and an evaluation will take place in 2025, when the plan will be updated for 2026-30.

Five action plans detail the priorities for the key land types in the Biosphere: coast; grassland and arable; towns and villages; trees, woodlands and hedges; and wetlands and waterbodies.

The impact

The two headline goals fundamental to achieving our vision are:

  • By 2030, 30% of land within the biosphere is biodiversity-rich habitat in good or recovering condition.
  • By 2030, nature recovery has been integrated into the management of the remaining 70% of land within the biosphere.


Lessons learned

Too early to say.


Donna Sibley, Sustainability and Climate Officer: [email protected]