Public get a say on Pebblebed future

PUBLISHED: 13:48 28 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:44 10 June 2010

MEMBERS of the public are being invited to give their views on how the unique Pebblebed Commons should be looked after in the future.

MEMBERS of the public are being invited to give their views on how the unique Pebblebed Commons should be looked after in the future.

The lowland heaths are among just a few remaining in Britain, making them rarer than tropical rainforests, and The East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust and the RSPB are holding a series of open days and events.

These events will educate people on why the Commons need to be carefully managed both now and in the future.

The Pebblebed Commons are one of the largest heathland areas left in the UK and are a unique man-made area of heathland and wetland, important for their special plants, invertebrates and birds and valued as wild countryside for the use and enjoyment of local residents and visitors.

Like all man-made habitats, heathland depends on continuing management for its survival, and in the past this would have been carried out by local farmers and commoners, using the heaths for grazing, cutting and turfing, for peat and firewood, larger timber for construction and repairs and sands or gravels for domestic use.

However, these activities became uneconomic which is why the heaths are now maintained by the Trust and the RSPB for the benefit of wildlife and for the people who use them for leisure activities.

Commons Warden Bungy Williams said: "No decisions on future management have been made.

"(But) ...without proper management, grasses come to dominate the dry heath and invade the wet mires which are rich in wildlife.

"More people and dogs could mean greater disturbance to wildlife and more pressure on car parks and the path network.

"These issues are already being addressed but we need to look to a future that may see increasing pressure from public use with the development of new housing in the region.

"To do nothing and let the site deteriorate both as a public space and as a nationally and internationally designated site for wildlife is not an option."

The Trust and RSPB has commissioned a report available t www.pebblebedheaths.org/home.ashx and views can be e-mailed to Lesley Kerry at: lesley.kerry@footprint-ecology.co.uk

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