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Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area (Devon Wildlife Trust, Natural England, North Devon Biosphere Reserve, DEFRA)

The Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area (NIA) is one of 12 new pilot schemes in England designed to achieve a step-change in landscape scale conservation. 

Embracing the greater part of the Torridge catchment, the area hosts 35% of the UK’s remaining Culm grassland, 120 scheduled plants and animals, and important populations of two of Europe’s ten most threatened species – the marsh fritillary butterfly and the freshwater pearl mussel. It also includes wooded lower valleys that cocoon the river Torridge, itself a feature of great biodiversity interest, but in much need of restoration.

In year one, DBRC carried out 11 Parish Biodiversity Audits covering an area of approximately 12,000 hectares.  The audits include desktop studies of the data already held on the parishes biodiversity, and then subsequent ground truthing using publicly accessible roads and paths.   During 2013/2014 DBRC will be carrying out further audits within prioritised parishes.Beaford_parish_map_-_Appendix_1

Important areas of biodiversity value are highlighted and mapped along with areas offering potential for improvement or connectivity.  Local knowledge is fed into the surveyors reports and members of the public often assist in signposting high value areas.  The methodology used allows for large areas of ground to be covered cost effectively, and by engaging the community in the audit it improves both the accuracy and the legacy.  

Subsequent work by NIA officers, partner organisations and local agents can be based on individualised parish audits, allowing differences in biodiversity & geography to shape the framework through which this project’s success is delivered. 

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