Devon’s natural value: Examples of ecosystem services
The ecosystem services provided by the natural environment are varied and critical to life in Devon. Here are some amazing examples.
The Jurassic Coast is the only natural World Heritage Site in England. The East Devon stretch of the site attracts around 650,000 staying visitors and 2.5 million day visitors each year, with a spend of over £250 million.
The South West Coast Path is the UK’s most popular National Trail and is listed as one of the world’s greatest walks by Lonely Planet. In 2011 over 2 million people used the Devon section, spending over £132 million.
Lyme Bay has been identified as a UK marine biodiversity hotspot. Its reefs support rare species such as the sunset cup coral. Commercial fishing within just the Torbay Marine Conservation Zone generates almost £1 million a year in landings, while recreational activities generate around £1.6 million a year.
Brixham is the largest fishing port in England in terms of the value of landings, £22 million a year.
People living less than 1 km from the sea are more likely to consider themselves in good health than people living further away.
Devon has two National Parks and five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and our landscapes are a main attraction for tourists. Tourism spend in the county is over £2 billion annually, more than any other county in the south west. Dartmoor National Park contributed £520 million to the local economy in 2009.
Flower rich areas on farmland, road verges, gardens, parks and schools all provide an important source of nectar and pollen for Devon’s bees and other pollinators. To replace pollination services provided by bees nationally would cost farmers around £1.8 billion a year in labour and pollen alone.
Devon has 3,200 miles of public rights of way and over 86,000 hectares of accessible natural green space (largely Open Access Land). The health and welfare benefits of the UK’s green spaces is £30 billion a year.
Developers are willing to pay 3% more for commercial property near to open space.
Agriculture and food production accounts for 13% of Devon’s economy compared to 7.6% nationally.
Hedges and woodlands
Devon has approximately 77,600 hectares of woodland and 53,000km of hedges, as well as around 20% of all the species rick hedges in the UK. A study of woodfuel industry showed that the value of wood fuel production in Devon could grow by £4 million between 2010 and 2020.
Devon’s woodlands account for 4,500 full time equivalent jobs and contribute £200 million to the local economy.
The value of public access benefits to UK woodland is estimated to be £447 million a year.
Devon has 3,500km of river habitats, which supports a wealth of wildlife, including an internationally important otter population. Devon’s 13 salmon rivers support some of the best salmon fishing in the UK. The River Dart is internationally renowned for water sports.
South West Water is investing £9.1 million in ‘Upstream Thinking’ between 2010 and 2015. Funding in Devon is helping to restore upland bogs and wet culm grasslands, which act as sponges within the landscape and help to clean and regulate our water supplies. These wetlands are beneficial to rare species such as the Marsh Fritillary butterfly.