Devon’s historic environment isn’t just limited to man-made buildings, monuments, standing stones and archaeological sites, but landscapes and wildlife habitats resulting from millennia of human interaction with nature.
An understanding our historic environment is increasingly important when thinking about ecosystem services and natural capital. The biodiversity of Devon is a product of landscape geology and traditional management. Devon hedges are rich in species and provide commuting routes for wildlife across the county, ancient medieval hunting forests now provide a refuge for woodland species. As we lose historical features of interest such as hedgerows and orchards to the needs of modern agriculture and development, we are also losing the ecological value of these landscapes. The Blackdown Hills AONB has now ben chosen as one of nine pilots to explore how the heritage sector might better engage with ‘ecosystem services’ approaches. Or find out how an understanding of the river Culm’s heritage is increasing its resilience into the future.
Most of Devon’s historic environment is not protected by law, yet you can still find a significant proportion of historic landscapes, monuments and buildings that are designated as being of international or national importance. These include the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site, Scheduled Monuments, Registered Historic Parks and Gardens, Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas as well as two National Parks and five AONBs. As these natural landscapes are full of scheduled ancient monuments, listed buildings, registered parks and gardens. Visiting these historic sites provide the opportunities for many to connect with the natural world. English Heritage has provided a full report detailing the importance of incorporating heritage into our understanding of the environment.
Further sources of useful information
Historic Environment information, Devon County Council
The historic environment and cultural landscapes, Natural England
Devon Historic Environment Record – a comprehensive and dynamic resource of the historic environment of Devon and is available for public benefit and use.
Historic England Advice on wildlife protection, vegetation on walls, bats, birds, squirrels, reptiles, amphibians, insects, peat, and a list of contacts