Pebblebed Heaths receive Heritage Fund grant to connect people to nature

Pebblebed Heaths National Nature Reserve is celebrating today after receiving more than £190,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to make nature accessible to all. The Pebblebeds for All project aims to provide resources over three years to connect individuals, groups, and businesses to the special qualities of the Pebblebed Heaths National Nature Reserve. The project has also been supported with over £150,000 from the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust.

The award will fund a new Community Engagement Ranger, who joins the team in April to help provide new opportunities for anyone to take positive actions for nature on this internationally important conservation area, and a Countryside Ranger Apprenticeship for someone keen to begin their conservation career.

The project will engage with under-represented groups, extending volunteering opportunities and establishing a Youth Ranger Scheme. Additional resources will also be invested to create a culture of responsible enjoyment for all, so local people feel connected, confident, and skilled to play their part, ensuring the unique heritage is protected today and for the future.

The Pebblebed Heaths National Nature Reserve covers more than 1,100 hectares (2,800 acres) of heathland to the east of Exeter and was recently extended to include the Otter Estuary, near Budleigh Salterton.

The Pebblebeds For All project is designed to build and re-affirm the strong and meaningful relationships people have with the unique heritage, habitats and wildlife of the heaths and estuary, working on the well-established conservation premise that people who understand their local wildlife and habitats, are much more likely to help protect them.

The Conservation Trust team will be working with partner organisations and businesses to make it easier for people to find the information they need to be able to take part in activities which are happening across the nature reserve.

The project will enhance understanding and skills, strengthening local pride in the reserve and underlining the vital role it plays in supporting the health, social, and economic wellbeing of people across East Devon.

Kim Strawbridge, Pebblebed Heaths Reserves Manager, said: “We know we are caring for places that local people are passionate about and that these special places enrich people’s lives in different ways.

We are thrilled to be able to spend the next three years setting up some exciting new initiatives through the Pebblebeds For All project, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players. This funding is a vital boost, giving us the resources we need to work with our partners to make our activities more inclusive and to support people that want to join us to help protect the Pebblebed Heaths NNR.”

Kim said “Welcoming new volunteers will be a big part of the project. We are quite a small team so most of the volunteering we currently organise is during the week, which limits it to those who are able to come along in working hours.  We want to be able to offer more opportunities for people to volunteer at times to suit them, and this funding will help us to do that.”