North Devon Areas of

Outstanding Natural


May 2005

Braunton Burrows UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

The AONB Partnership Position Statement:

The North Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural beauty covers 171km sq of coastal landscape from Marsland Mouth on the Cornish Border, to Combe Martin on the boundary of Exmoor National Park. 

The statutory purpose of an AONB is:

bulletTo conserve and enhance natural beauty

Three related purposes are:

bulletRecreation so far as this is consistent with the conservation aim
bulletAccount should be taken of the needs of rural industries and the social and economic needs of local communities
bulletSustainable development

During 2003/4 a Management Plan was developed with Partners for the North Devon AONB.  This identified actions for a range of local and regional partners.  The delivery of the Management Plan is overseen by the North Devon AONB Partnership.  The Partnership and the AONB staff Unit have no statutory powers.  These remain with the local Authority.

The core role of AONB Partnership and staff unit includes:

bulletFacilitating the implementation of the Management Plan
bulletMonitoring progress against AONB targets
bulletMonitoring landscape conditions
bulletAccessing resources for management activates
bulletDeveloping community AONB
bulletProviding landscape planning advice

Braunton Burrows Management

Braunton Burrows is part of the Taw Torridge Estuary Landscape Character Area of the AONB.  It is an area of outstanding importance for wildlife and scenery which is reflected in its designations including that of Site of Special Scientific & Special Area of Conservation, and the core area of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The Biosphere Reserve has buffer and transitional zones which serve to support the ecological management of the core area through community participation in trying to achieve sustainable development in these outer zones.

The Burrows is privately owned by the Christie Devon Estates and has been for over 300 years, with much of it leased to the Defence Estates for military training. 

English Nature has powers to ensure protection and management of SSSIs generally and safeguard their existence into the future.  English Nature specialists provide guidance on the conservation management of Braunton Burrows.  

The MoD’s Defence Estates organisation convenes a Braunton Burrows Conservation group to provide additional advice.

North Devon Coast and Countryside Service provides the resources and secretariat for the co-ordination of the wider Biosphere Reserve and is responsible for the Coast path passing through the site.

North Devon AONB Partnership Position Statement for Braunton Burrows

The AONB Partnership believes that Braunton Burrows site is to be treasured for its                             

bulletSpectacular wildlife and landscape
bulletTranquility and Remoteness
bulletContribution to the health and well being of those who visit
bulletContribution to education and research
bulletContribution to the local economy

The AONB Partnership believes that the Burrows have become such an important site because of it’s:

bulletGood management over many generations by the Christie Estate
bulletIts crucial role in epitomizing the environmental quality of North Devon.
bulletValue to the Local Community

The AONB Partnership believes that the future value of the Burrows will be assured by:

bulletUse of best  practice conservation management for wildlife and landscape
bulletManaging public access in so far as is compatible with wildlife needs and health and safety
bulletEnsuring that any development enhances the landscape and tranquility
bulletImproving the understanding of users and local residents about  planning and management  of the Burrows through information dissemination and volunteer support for approved activity

To support these principles the AONB Partnership will in so far as resources permit and where they add value to the Biosphere Reserve Co-ordination arrangements:

bulletOffer space on its web site for agencies  legitimately concerned with management of the site to  consult or publicise their actions
bulletSupport  the land managers with any public consultation events related to Burrows
bulletProvide officer representation on the Braunton Burrows Conservation Group through NDCCS.
bulletSupport funding bids which aim to provide for conservation management and access to the Burrows
bulletRespond to Planning Consultations affecting the Burrows
bulletSupport  volunteer activities on the Burrows as requested by the landowners and the agencies legitimately concerned with the management of the site
bulletSupport the development of the Ecosystem Approach in the management of the entire Biosphere Reserve.
bulletAssisting the accountable agencies to have due regard for the purposes of the designation of the AONB.


bulletBraunton Burrows cover 1330 Hectares and is one of the largest dune systems in the UK
bulletBraunton Burrows boasts nearly 500 different species of plants
bulletBraunton Burrows hosts 33 species of Butterflies
bulletBraunton Burrows has been in the ownership of the Cleveland/Christie family for more than 300 years
bulletBraunton Burrows was used for military training during World War II. Remains of concrete replica landing craft and other artifacts can still be seen today

North Devon AONB

Bideford Station

Railway Terrace

East-the –Water


EX39 4BB

Tel: 01237 42655

Fax: 01237 423613