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      Biosphere Reserve Information

United Kingdom


Photo: Philippe Vernhes
  General Description   This biosphere reserve is situated in the estuary of the Taw and Torridge Rivers in North Devon.
A diversity of habitats is represented here. The core area comprises an active dune system with geomorphological and successional processes. 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. As a result of the periodic review process in 2002, the Braunton Burrows Biosphere Reserve has been completely revised and extended by a consultation process among the local communities and the conservation and development authorities. It now encompasses a larger sector of the estuary of the Taw and Torridge Rivers.
About 53,000 people live in the biosphere reserve (2002) who are mainly engaged in services, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing. Braunton Burrows Biosphere Reserve is a site where traditional land use practices are still maintained today. 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. 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.
A special focus is given to young people at the Braunton Community College, located in the transition area, in order to make them familiar with the biosphere reserve concept.
  Major ecosystem type   Temperate broadleaf forests or woodlands including coastal/marine component
  Major habitats & land cover types   Dune (fixed and mobile) characterized by Ammophila arenaria, Salix spp., Juncus acutus, and Scirpus holoschoenus estuarine and saltmarsh habitats with Atriplex portulacoides, Salicornia spp., Suaeda martima etc.; low marsh and grazing marsh / floodplain including Phragmites communis, Agrostis stolonifera, Juncus effusus, Lemna gibba etc.; mixed farmland with Crataegus sp., Prunus sp., Fraxinus sp., Cynosurus cristatus, Agrostis stolonifera etc.;
  Location   5105'N; 0424'W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   14,177
  Core area(s)   1,333
  Buffer zone(s)   3,120
  Transition area(s) when given   9,724 (of which marine: 3,468)
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   -1 to +150
  Year designated   1976, extension 2002
  Administrative authorities   Christie Devon Estates own and manage the Core Area. Buffer and Transition area is Devon County Council through the Northern Devon Coast and Countryside Service
  Brief description   Changes in soil bio-geo-chemistry on managed re-alignment sites being carried out at new saltmarsh sites on the river Torridge
Study of coastal processes in Bideford Bay and the Taw Torridge Estuary
Monitoring of hydrology
Beach level monitoring
Condition of the Pebble Ridge Northam
Water quality at bathing beaches
Point source discharges of water quality
Key species and habitat monitoring
Effects of different pre-treatments for creating new saltmarshes
Colonization of new saltmarsh creating
Effects of grazing animals on the vegetation
WeBs Counts
DWT marine surveys
Rocky foreshore biota populations DWT and Halsannery FSC
Demography National Office of Statistics
Use of Cycle ways DCC
Visitor surveys
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   n.a.
  Biodiversity   Biology, dune systems, flora, methodologies, reintroduction, restoration/rehabilitation/redevelopment.
  Socio-economic   Livestock and related impacts/Overgrazing.
  Integrated monitoring   Impact and risk studies/Environmental impact.
  Contact address   Andrew Bell
North Devon Coast & Countryside Service
Bideford Station, East the Water, Bideford
EX39 4BB Devon
United Kingdom
  Telephone   +44 (0) 1237 423655
  Web site   MAB UK website

Last updated: 07/04/2009

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