Dartmoor National Park – Environmental Impact Assessment

Dartmoor National Park is a moorland situated in the middle of Devon, in southwest England. It is currently exposed to a battle faced by many moorland areas in the UK, this revolves around the balance of interests from a variety of pressure groups. The issue is that growing pressure placed on the natural environment from increased tourism within the Dartmoor national park (Tubb, 2010).

To conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)of the Physical, Biological and Recreational qualities of Dartmoor; the three main factors to consider are:

  • Maintaining Natural Biodiversity

Dartmoor boasts an impressive level of biodiversity, Ponies roam almost the entirety of the 954 km² of Dartmoor, it is also a popular destination for bird watchers due to the opportunity to see relatively high numbers of birds of prey and sky larks in the wild. Skylarks are of particular importance as between 1986 and 1995 the population of skylarks in the south of the UK declined by 51% this meant a loss of almost three million birds (Wilson, 1995). Four sites around Dartmoor are designated as National Nature Reserves (NNRs) and around 30,000 hectares of Dartmoor National Park (31% of the total area) is designated for its wildlife or geological value in numerous Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) (Dartmoor National Park Authority, 2011). In 2009, a number of areas on Dartmoor that were of county interest to wildlife were designated as County Wildlife Sites. The recognition of the environmental value of dartmoor in terms of biodiversity is being recognised.

  • Supporting Sustainable Farming

Farming has been practiced on Dartmoor since prehistoric times with evidence that supports the presence grazing animals in 1480 (Fyfe, 2008) the contemporary situation is that Farming on Dartmoor currently faces a number of significant challenges from a wide variety of sources (Turner, 2002). Hill farming requires assistance in terms of policy to run efficiently and sustainably to reduce the negative environmental impact. However, if hill farms employ appropriate practices they can have a positive impact on the physical, biological and recreational state of their surrounding environment (Turner, 2002).

  • Upholding sustainable use of Dartmoor as a site for recreation

Dartmoor is a popular destination for walkers, horse riders, and cyclists looking for a raw and beautiful upland setting. This tourism can have negative impacts if visitors have a lack of awareness (Tubb, 2010). The key to limiting the environmental impact of tourism without reducing accessibility of the moor is education (Dartmoor National Park Authority, 2011).

The objective for conservation of dartmoor is to maintain all three of these factors rather than focusing on one factor exclusively as this will cause conflict. This is the objective ot the National Park Authority: ‘The National Park Authority relies on the co-operation of all who live, work and visit Dartmoor to help safeguard its special qualities for the present and future generations’.

Dartmoor National Park Authority. (2011). Sites of Nature Conservation Interest. Dartmoor National Park.

Fyfe, R. M. (2008). Historical context and chronology of Bronze Age land enclosure on Dartmoor, UK. Journal of Archaeological Science, 2250-2261.

Tubb, K. N. (2010). An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Interpretation within Dartmoor National Park in Reaching the Goals of Sustainable Tourism Development. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 476-489.

Turner, M. (2002). The State of Farming on Dartmoor 2002. Exeter: Centre for Rural Research.

Wilson, J. D. (1995). Territory distribution and breeding sucsess of skylarks Alauda Arvensis on organic and intensive farmland in southern England. Journal of Applied Ecology, 1462-1478.



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