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Nature-friendly project along the Exmoor Coast

Rangers working above Porlock Bay
Rangers working above Porlock Bay | © National Trust Images

We are working to give land back to nature, let water flow through the landscape, create a haven of biodiverse habitats for wildlife and improve access for people to enjoy the Exmoor Coast all year round.

Looking after the Exmoor Coast

Over the centuries Exmoor has been ecologically compromised by farming and other interventions which have stripped out woodland, wetlands, orchards, ponds, and meadows. This has reduced the biodiversity of the region, restricted wildlife movement and made it less resilient to climate change.

The National Trust manages 55% of the Exmoor coast which straddles both North Devon and Somerset Properties. The Exmoor coast project is implementing a joined-up approach to land management, creating, and connecting a mosaic of habitats between sea and land, so nature and people can thrive. The project calls for a step change in nature recovery, guided by the “Lawton principles” and a landscape-scale approach to nature conservation where networks of habitats are bigger, better, and more joined up.

An Exmoor coast for everyone

Our vision is an Exmoor coast for everyone - a more dynamic landscape, dotted with more trees, scrub and water, where natural processes are healing the previously overworked and stripped back landscape and where both people and nature can freely roam and enjoy a truly wild Exmoor coast. We are committed to ensure everyone can enjoy this spectacular part of the world and work in partnership to bring our conservation work to everyone.

We are monitoring the impact of our conservation interventions with volunteers and recording positive impacts on soil health, water retention and an increase in biodiversity in the land we care for, though there is still more to do to reverse the decline in nature and restore Exmoor to be once again brimming with wildlife.

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Exmoor coast project

Find out more about the project.

Two walkers and one person using an all-terrain mobility vehicle look out from a grassy hill, across the sea and to a coastal town
Visitors at Countisbury Hill, near Lynmouth, Exmoor | © National Trust Images/Trevor Ray Hart

Developing ecological diversity

Along the Exmoor coast, we are working to reverse the decline in nature by reconnecting 35 miles of coastal woodland, creating nature corridors and improving access to the countryside for more people. By 2025 the team will have planted 165,000 trees, created 50 hectares of new wetland, 75 hectares of new meadow and the largest stretch of connected woodland in England.

Conservation grazing

To help us manage this vast moorland we employ conservation grazing, using hardy breeds, such as long horn cattle, Exmoor ponies and mangolista pigs. We are trialling innovative GPS (Global Positioning System) collar, no-fence grazing using traditional breeds of cattle to help blur the edges of woodland habitats, creating space for habitat suited for the heath fritillary butterfly whose stronghold is on Exmoor.

Temperate rainforest

Coastal woodland is classified as temperate rainforest, even rarer than tropical rainforests. We are linking two internationally important woodlands together, improving the woodland connectivity and creating new and more joined up mosaics of orchards, wetlands, woodland, and scrub.

Working with partners

The Exmoor Coast Project is collaborative in nature and works in partnership with a variety of community groups, organisations and businesses. We are working with Somerset and Devon National Trust properties, tenant farmers, DEFRA, Green Recovery Challenge Fund and other charitable organisations who share our conservation purpose.

Martinhoe and Woody Bay on the Exmoor Coast
Martinhoe and Woody Bay on the Exmoor Coast | © National Trust Images/Peter Rock

Latest project updates


Three pigs arrive at Tattiscombe

We welcomed the arrival of three mangolista pigs at Tattiscombe in 2021. As they turn up the ground, they create seeding opportunities and a varied grassland structure. This is part of the 1800 hectares of conservation grazing along the Exmoor coast. We have been making space for nature at Tattiscombe with new ponds and wetland areas, which support a wide variety of insects, amphibians and birds.  

Our partners

Green Recovery Challenge Fund

This project is funded by the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.