Devon Biodiversity Action Plan

Plants and Animals

Special to Devon!

The location of Devon.

Introduction to Devon's Wildlife

The location of Devon. The County of Devon in South West England is a wonderful place for wildlife. It is special because it contains so many different habitats within a relatively small area.  These different habitats are home to thousands of different kinds of plants and animals.

The climate in Devon is much warmer and milder than in more northern parts of Britain. This allows many less hardy plants and animals to survive here. The combination of gentler weather and many different habitats means that Devon has some of the most varied wildlife in Britain.

Red Sandstone Cliffs of Sidmouth, South Devon Coast. Devon has the sea on both its northern and southern boundaries, giving it many different marine habitats. These include offshore coral reefs, towering cliffs, rocky seashores, sandy beaches and muddy river estuaries of international importance for wildlife. 

Devon also has the largest sand dune system in the United Kingdom, in North Devon, at Braunton Burrows.

Beer Head, the most westerly outcropping of chalk in Britain.(South Devon) Its geology is also very varied. Evidence of the amazing species which made up Devon's wildlife millions of years ago can readily be found on its pebble beaches and poking out of its sea cliffs.  Part of Devon's southern coastline has been made a World Heritage Site because of the wonderful fossil record which it contains.

The underlying rocks also influence the soils produced. The variety of rock types and soils means there is also a great range of plant life.

Exmoor, an upland moor in northern Devon Inland, Devon has some important moorland areas. Exmoor (left) and Dartmoor are both within the County boundaries. Both moors are National Parks because they are such special and valued areas for wildlife and recreation.
Agricultural grasslands of many different kinds. Devon is also blessed with fast-flowing streams, lazy rivers, wetlands, marshes, heathlands, a patchwork of agricultural grasslands, including wildflower meadows (left) as well as different types of woodlands.
Foxgloves grow along the sides of the tall earth bank which forms the base of the hedgebank. All of these are interlinked by hundreds of miles of spectacular hedgerows, many of them on tall hedgebanks.

This is a feature which is peculiar to South West England and to Devon in particular.

Primroses on a Devon Hedgebank Within all of these different habitats live a great variety of plants and animals.

Some species are found in much greater numbers in Devon than anywhere else in England. For example, Devon is famous for its wonderful hedgebanks covered in primroses in the spring.

Pipistrelle Bat, a national Biodiversity Action Plan species Another name for wildlife is 'Biodiversity'. This word simply means 'the great variety of life'.

Throughout Britain (including Devon) certain wildlife species are becoming less common or indeed rare. To try to reverse this, National 'Biodiversity Action Plans' (UK BAP)have been produced for species and habitats which are rare or threatened.

These plans lay out all of the actions that will be taken to make sure that special British wildlife is preserved for the future.

Nightjar - Image courtesy of the RSPB Devon also has its own Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), concentrating on the wildlife which is particularly special to Devon.

This singles out 20 species of plants and animals for special action, including the summer visiting Nightjar (left), as well as 17 different kinds of habitat.

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Learn more about Devon Wildlife

East Devon Nature Video

Braunton Burrows Sand Dunes

Lowland Heaths