Funding & Conservation Partners
The Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust is an environmental charity and forms part of conservation group that includes a Land Management Company. It is funded by Clinton Devon Estates with financial support from DEFRA. Additional support comes from charitable donations. Our outdoor countryside learning education work is supported by the Ernest Cook Trust and the Otter Valley Association.
Clinton Devon Estates owns 80% of what remains of the Pebblebed Heaths, the core area of which is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area. The Commons owned by Clinton Devon Estates include Aylsebeare, Harpford, Hawkerland, Colaton Raleigh, Woodbury, Bicton, East Budleigh, Dalditch and Mutter’s Moor (the latter is not a Common), with all but Aylsebeare and Harpford managed by the Conservation Trust. The Conservation Trust works with a broad variety of conservation partners to achieve its aims. These include Natural England who provide management advice and statutory guidance, the Environment Agency who have a particular interest in the aquifer that underlies the heaths, the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, for whom the lowland heaths represent an important part of the local landscape, and English Heritage who guide the protection of the archaeological heritage. Another key partner is the RSPB who lease and manage Aylsebeare and Harpford Commons. The Trust also works in close partnership with Barndon Aggregates who lease a quarry at Blackhill and who are currently restoring the old quarry site to heathland, and other landowners who manage smaller local areas of heath including the East Devon District Council and the Devon Wildlife Trust. Most of these partners come together annually to celebrate and promote the local heathland natural and cultural heritage in Heathweek. The Devon and Cornwall Probation Trust is another long-term partner who have assisted with conservation work on a near weekly basis over the years.
The Royal Marines also support the work of the Conservation Trust. Much of the core area of the heaths are licensed to the Ministry of Defence for training, with the Marines using the heaths for this purpose since the 1940s. The presence of the Marines acts as a useful deterrent to illegal activities, and some of the areas of highest wildlife interest are associated with Marine presence. The Royal Marines sporadically assist with conservation activities such as litter picking, the control of invasive species and the protection of mires. The Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust also enjoys a good working relationship with the emergency services, with the Fire Service being particularly valued partners in leading on the control of wild fires.
A team of volunteers assists the Conservation Trust annually to undertake wildlife surveys and assist with conservation work such as scrub clearance and path repair. The Devon Amphibian and Reptile Group (DRAG), the Devon Bat Group, Butterfly Conservation, the Devon Wildlife Trust and the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre coordinate some of the activities related to improving our understanding of the local biodiversity.
Perhaps the most important conservation partner, however, is the public itself. Thousands of local people visit the heath on a daily or weekly basis.
The Conservation Trust is currently establishing a Friends of the Common group to keep local people notified about conservation work and ensure that the the Trust continue to work together. Volunteering opportunities with the Conservation Trust exist, with the Trust keen to provide opportunities that suit the volunteers skills and interests, whether this is related to environmental education, record keeping, volunteer coordination, mapping, biodiversity monitoring or essential outdoor practical work.
If you are interested in becoming a Friend of the Commons and receiving regular updates on our work and events, or are contemplating volunteering, please contact us.
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