Issues and Challenges

Dartmoor faces a number of challenges affecting the special qualities and delivery of ecosystem services, both of immediate concern and long-term implications. This Management Plan is set within the context of global drivers such as climate change and a time of austerity in the global economy.

The key drivers and challenges facing Dartmoor are summarised below. These were identified from the State of the National Park Review, and from monitoring and consultation. They are grouped into the three themes of 'Sustain', 'Enjoy' and 'Prosper' for ease of reference, although there are many linkages between them.

Sustain: Key Drivers & Challenges

  • The future viability of farming on Dartmoor including farm succession.
  • Ensuring traditional skills and knowledge are sustained for future management of the National Park.
  • Under-grazing in some areas of the moor leading to dense vegetation, in places changing the open character of the landscape, affecting habitats and impeding access.
  • Intensive grazing (and recreational pressure) on parts of the moor leading to degradation of heathland habitats.
  • Decline in the number of active graziers managing the commons.
  • The importance of good land management on Dartmoor to maintain clean water supplies for a large proportion of the population in Devon and east Cornwall.
  • Uncontrolled burns (wild fires) affecting water quality and loss of carbon stored in peat.
  • Securing woodland management (particularly for smaller woodlands).
  • Developing new markets and added value for woodland products.
  • Reducing the impact of conifer woodlands on landscape character.
  • Restoring plantations on ancient woodland sites to their former habitats.
  • Animal and plant health, including the spread of non-native species and increases in disease.
  • Some habitats and wildlife under threat from inappropriate management, fragmentation, invasive non-native species and climate changes.
  • Threats from inappropriate development in and affecting the National Park.
  • Loss of tranquillity due to light pollution, increased traffic, large-scale events and active sports.
  • Heritage assets at risk including threats to archaeology from increased vegetation on the moor, climate change, poor condition of listed buildings, and loss of character of conservation areas.
  • Enabling future viable use of historic buildings.
  • Loss of cultural heritage such as threats to local fairs and traditions for example.

Enjoy: Key Drivers & Challenges

  • Improving understanding and appreciation of Dartmoor by a wide range of people.
  • Extending the duration and spend of visitors, to benefit the local economy.
  • Path erosion from extreme weather events and heavy use, and threats to access to open areas from increased density of vegetation.
  • Challenges in managing more active recreation alongside quiet enjoyment of the National Park.
  • Visitor pressure on areas of heavy recreation use with congestion, litter, campfires and anti-social behaviour.
  • Balancing the needs of landowners, commoners and local communities with visitors.
  • Inability of and difficulties faced by certain sectors of society accessing the National Park.
  • Increase in the number and scale of large recreation events.
  • Impacts of traffic at peak periods, vehicle speeds, and large vehicles.
  • Promoting the health and wellbeing benefits of access and recreation on Dartmoor.
  • Conflict between military training (live firing) and public access.

Prosper: Key Drivers & Challenges

  • Encouraging growth and resilience in the local economy through the diversity of business types and employment.
  • Developing employment opportunities in growth sectors such as construction, business services, tourism and leisure.
  • Retaining successful and growing businesses.
  • Reversing the 'brain drain'.
  • Nurturing the culture of initiative, enterprise and energy in business, with people developing new markets and using new technology.
  • The future viability of farming on Dartmoor including farm succession.
  • Ensuring land-based and building skills are sustained for future management of the National Park.
  • Increasing the quality of the 'tourism offer' within the National Park and spend per visitor in order to increase the value of leisure and tourism to the local economy.
  • Growth and development in surrounding areas impacting on the setting of the National Park.
  • A wide gap between household incomes and house prices, leading to the need for affordable housing.
  • A need to provide the right type of housing, meeting the needs of local communities. including older people, and flexible housing for home working.
  • Sustaining and supporting local services and amenities.
  • An ageing population and fewer young people living and working on Dartmoor.
  • Fuel poverty and the high proportion of old housing stock with poor energy efficiency.
  • Increased interest in renewable energy technologies, with potential impacts on the National Park's special qualities.
  • High reliance on the private car for transport, exacerbated by reductions in public transport within and to the National Park.
  • Opportunities and threats arising from climate change for local communities and businesses, including extreme weather events, flood risk and implications for tourism and agriculture.

Dartmoor's special qualities are the product of many different influences and pressures over time, and they will continue to evolve and change. Some of these influences are outside the control of the Management Plan, so the aim is to focus collective action on where the greatest opportunities arise to enhance the special qualities, and to manage the most significant pressures on the National Park, so that Dartmoor's special qualities remain.