The road signs are going up, and soon visitors will know that when they come to North Devon, they enter into one of just six UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserves in the UK.  Biosphere Reserves recognise a special connection between a land and its people:

Our Biosphere is here to inspire a positive future by connecting people and nature today. It sounds very dramatic, but it is true! The North Devon Biosphere Reserve is a very special region. You only have to cross the watershed into the river catchment to see it and feel it. It’s not just the wildlife but the landscape, the culture and the people that make the area worthy of the UNESCO designation.
— Professor Michael Winter OBE

Beaford is proud to be a partner of the North Devon Biosphere Reserve, helping to celebrate and sustain our region’s unique nature. There are hundreds of projects taking place across the global network of Biosphere Reserves, from Mozambique to Morocco and from Kenya to Columbia, all promoting a positive future for world-class environments. Here in North Devon, we’re proud to lead some of the most innovative projects in the programme, which will inform sustainable practice around the world. 


Over the past three years, the North Devon Biosphere Reserve team has been responding to environmental issues in the designation and delivering the research that is leading to action and sustainable impact. There are many projects in progress, including: 


The Estuary Project

The problem: Faecal matter is running off the land and into the estuary too quickly.  This means that its nutrients are not reaching the soil. Instead, it’s entering the estuary waters, resulting in our shellfish being unfit for consumption.

The solution: NDBR is working with farmers close to the estuary to find natural solutions, including the introduction of new wetlands to slow down and direct the run-off.

The result: After three years there’s been a considerable improvement in water quality in the Caen, Bradwell and Knowle streams. Work is continuing, but we’re closer to making our shellfish a harvestable commodity, which is good for business and great for birds. 

Woods for Water and Natural Flood Management

The problem: Storms and periods of heavy rainfall are resulting in a sudden influx of water and flooding from the Taw and Torridge catchments. 

The solution: NDBR is working with communities and upstream landowners to find ways of slowing the water’s descent. Measures include managing soil compaction, building log dams, and planting more trees to intercept the flow.

The result: 56 hectares of land have been committed to new woodland planting, significantly reducing the rapid flow of water into the Taw. The new ways of working tested in this programme are influencing national policy in line with the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan

Our relationship with agriculture is key to the Biosphere Reserve’s success. As well as being stewards of the land, farmers need to run an effective business - we aim to work with them to achieve enhanced business resilience and a great profile for produce from North Devon’s world-class environment.

— Andy Bell, North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Coordinator 

For more information on the North Devon Biosphere Reserve visit