How’s Devon’s environment doing?

What sort of condition is our environment in right now? How is land use and landscape changing? What’s happening to wildlife habitats? How about our air, water and soils? And what difference will a growing population and climate change make?

These are among the big questions addressed in the State of the Environment report for Devon and Torbay – updated March 2016. As its title suggests, the report describes the current condition of our environment. It also considers future trends and identifies pressures to be considered when making decisions. It’s critical in shaping the work of Natural Devon.

The report comprises 13 chapters, each focusing on a theme that influences the overall condition of our environment. From this page you can each chapter and learn about the relationships between environmental quality, economic prosperity and health and well being in Devon.

A summary report is also available.


Devon and Torbay’s population is growing. A higher population has the potential to impact significantly, both positively and negatively, on the state of the environment and influence  economic prosperity and people’s health.  Read more >

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The large areas of open space and woodland in Devon and Torbay as well as their extensive Public Rights of Way network offers opportunities to explore and experience the natural environment. However, some areas of Devon and Torbay are deficient in accessible green space in comparison to Natural England standards. Read more >

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The historic environment is valued by residents and visitors as a key part of Devon and Torbay’s cultural identity boasting two World Heritage Sites: the Devon and East Devon Coast and West Devon Mining Landscape. The number of historic assets ‘at risk’ continues to fall. Read more >

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The quality and character of Devon and Torbay’s rural and urban landscapes have long been recognised. However, growth in population and visitor numbers will exert further pressure on our landscape; this needs to be carefully managed to maintain a high quality and distinctive character. Read more >

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The way land is used has a significant impact upon the quality and character of our built and natural environment. The high quality of life experienced by residents is a reflection of a careful balance having been achieved in Devon and Torbay over many years. Read more >

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No human population can exist without functioning ecosystems to provide for our needs, for example nutritious food, clean air and water, pharmaceuticals and fuel. Devon and Torbay’s wildlife is celebrated by the number of internationally important designated sites and priority species. However, their condition varies across the area. Approximately 92% of Torbay’s and 30% of Devon’s Sites of Special Scientific Interest are in favourable condition. In Devon, Torbay and Plymouth there are a number of priority species in unfavourable condition including the water vole and curlew. Read more >

The Wildlife section of the State of Environment Report is based on the State of Devon’s Nature Report published in 2014

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Due to the reliance on fossil fuels, transport currently produces approximately 30% of Devon and Torbay’s carbon emissions. Sustainable and active transport modes are crucial for present and future generations’economic prosperity, access to services and improved health. Read more >

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Adequate quantity, quality and timing of water flows is required to sustain Devon and Torbay’s ecosystems and the valuable services they provide us. Devon is the only county in England to have two separate coastlines which are a significant tourist attraction. Read more >

The devastation of flooding has been seen first-hand in the recent flood events across the South West. Due to increasing urbanisation and the changing climate, the economic damage due to flooding is estimated by 2100 to rise to £1 billion. Further protection measures including coastal and river defences are required to safeguard Devon and Torbay’s environment. Read more >

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Waste is an output of economic and social activity, it can also be an input – whether as a useful material or in the form of electricity or heat from an energy recovery facility. Predicted levels indicate that the overall tonnage of waste for Devon and Torbay will increase alongside greater rates of recycling. Read more >

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Climate Change is a serious global threat demanding an urgent global response. Devon and Torbay are well placed to move towards a low carbon economy and seize the opportunities that a warmer climate may bring. Read more >

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The geology of Devon and Torbay governs what crops and wild plants will flourish in the area, and why we build homes and set up industry in one place rather than another. Devon and Torbay is home to one of the most varied geological resources in the British Isles. Devon contains minerals that are extracted for their international importance including Ball Clay and China Clay. Read more >

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Living in a noisy environment is known to have impacts upon sleep patterns and stress related illness. Since the 1960s there has been a gradual increase in the areas of Devon disturbed by noise and visual intrusion. However, the sparsely areas of Devon including Dartmoor National Park, are some of the most tranquil in England.Read more >

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5 thoughts on “State of the Environment

  1. Pingback: Devon state of the environment report is a jolly good model | gallondaily

  2. Pingback: Devon: the state of the environment | East Devon Alliance

  3. These ‘theme’ reports are excellent. Could I just say that the ‘Geology & Soils’ summary report could have included the Natural England ‘Soils 4 Profit’ results – an extensive survey of soil condition in the wider West Country.

    • Lewis, the Geology & Soils theme report has been updated to include reference to the Soils for Profit soil condition survey.

  4. Pingback: The State of the Environment in Devon and Torbay

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