Wildlife & Plants

Objective: To conserve and enhance the biodiversity and geodiversity of the AONB, in terrestrial, aquatic and marine habitats

The North Devon Coast AONB is enhanced by its rich and varied wildlife and is an essential element of its natural beauty. In spring, woods full of bluebells and hedgerow primroses are spectacular but for those who care to explore further, there are numerous rare and protected species and sites.

Priority habitats found in the AONB include oak woodland, parkland and wood pasture, species-rich hedgerows, farmland, Culm grassland, coastal heathland, sand dunes, estuary and salt marsh, rocky foreshore and seabed. The Devon list of priority species was updated in 2018 and includes a list of 96 Special Species for which the county has a particular responsibility. A number of these Special Species are found in the AONB including sea stock, round-headed club-rush and the scrambled-egg lichen found in Braunton Burrows, pink sea fan, pearl bordered fritillary and greater horseshoe bats.  See https://www.naturaldevon.org.uk/devons-natural-environment/devons-wildlife/devonspecialspecies/. Citizen science surveys of marine species in the inter-tidal zone, under the Coastal Creatures project in 2016-2018, identified 441 different species across four beaches with Lee Bay having the richest wildlife resources. All verified records have been uploaded to the National Biodiversity Network website.

The AONB has a plethora of designations which protect this precious resource, the most important of which are the two Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). Braunton Burrows has a spectacular dune system with over 400 plant species and is the heart of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The Tintagel-Marsland-Clovelly Coast SAC is home to western oak woodlands, vegetated sea cliffs and coastal heath. Small and precious fragments of Culm grassland survive in the Hartland Peninsula. There are 13 Sites of Special Scientific Interest covering biodiversity and geology that are partly or wholly in the AONB.

State of the AONB 2014 - 2018 - Biodiversity indicators

Download a free "Discover the AONB" map for North Devon and Torridge. The maps will guide you around the AONB and highlight the wildlife you may see along the way.

Wildlife links

Coastal Creatures Project

Devon Biodiversity Records Centre
Bat Conservation Trust
Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project
Orchard Location Maps
Marsland Nature Reserve
Chapel Wood RSPB Reserve
Northam Burrows Country Park
OPAL Guide to Wildlife Identification
Amphibian & Reptile Conservation
British Lichen Society
The Woodland Trust
North Devon AONB (Torridge) survey 2004 (report)


Sand Dunes
Rocky foreshore
Coastal Heathland
Culm Grassland
Coastal Oak Woodland




Stepping Out

26th March 2020, 10:32
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