In order for us to value and care for the South Devon AONB, we need to understand what is important about it - What makes it special. This campaign, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, runs from April to October 2018. During the project we are working with a wide range of people from our communities, discovering more about the AONB and looking closely at the distinctive character of the natural heritage that makes up this nationally important landscape.
AONBs are particularly special landscapes whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so outstanding that it is in the nation’s interest to safeguard them. The primary purpose of AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area.
The special qualities of South Devon AONB define and describe this natural beauty and are what makes the area unique or particularly distinctive. Together, the special qualities make the area nationally important and give it a strong ‘sense of place’.
Different people have their own opinions on what is special about South Devon, and no definition can claim to be absolute, but these are the ones used in our management plan.
A wild and rugged coastline
The superb, undeveloped coastline with its sandy shores, rugged cliffs, secretive coves and rocky islands
A network of streams, rivers and estuaries
Our five ria estuaries (drowned river valleys), combe valleys and the network of associated watercourses.
The patchwork of deeply rural agricultural landscape. Rolling hills with high hedgebanks and small fields on lower ground and hill top copses and wind sculpted trees higher up.
Open tops and hidden valleys
A naturally incised landscape that quickly turns intimate, hidden and secretive away from the plateau tops.
Long, unspoilt views
Iconic wide, unspoilt and expansive panoramic views and long framed dramatic views, giving a sense of remoteness, wildness and scale.
A long-lived in landscape
A rich sense of history and heritage reflecting thousands of years of human occupation, which creates ‘time-depth’ within the landscape.
A landscape rich in wildlife
An outstanding number and mix of priority habitats within a small area create a mosaic that is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife.
An ancient network of routeways
An ancient and intricate network of winding lanes, the South West Coast Path and other strategic recreational routes offer many opportunities to explore and enjoy the countryside.
A sense of tranquillity, space and place, natural nightscapes, distinctive natural soundscapes and visible movement.
Quality of views beyond the AONB boundary
A variety in the setting to the AONB formed by the marine environment, Plymouth City, Market and Coastal towns, rural South Hams and the southern fringe to Dartmoor National Park.
From April to October 2018 we will be running a series of events and activities to help you find out more about this special landscape, funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. During this time, we will also be out and about asking you what you think makes South Devon Special and what living or visiting here means to you.
You can download the full WMSDS programme by clicking on the pdf link on the side of this page.
This is how you can get involved!
Exploring What Makes South Devon Special
We have picked a series of walks that highlight each of the AONB's 10 special qualities - so you can download the route and go and enjoy them for yourselves.
We would love to hear what you think! Why not send us a picture of your favourite patch or let us know what you think makes South Devon special - post on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and tag us, or use #specialqualities or get in touch via email.