Landscape Management and Nature Recovery
The bold ambitions in the Partnership Plan for nature enhancement and recovery means being open to change, but also brings challenges for other objectives of the Partnership Plan including archaeology and landscape character. For example, there may be places where, for nature enhancement/recovery reasons we want to allow vegetation to grow or natural succession to take place, but this could impact on the visibility of heritage assets. Similarly, for Natural Flood Management purposes we may need to support changes such as allowing streams to meander where they have been straightened by tin streaming, or trees may be established within Premier Archaeological Landscapes and in other areas which will impact on heritage assets and will change the landscape character. Dartmoor currently has fourteen Premier Archaeological Landscapes (PALs) which were selected to represent the best examples of Dartmoor’s rich archaeological resources. They are areas that are considered to be of international importance and are some of the finest archaeological landscapes in Europe. They are not formally designated heritage assets and are not protected by legislation but are identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in decision-making. In these areas. Management of the archaeology is paramount, whilst remaining sympathetic to the ecological interest.
Conserving and enhancing landscape character does not mean ‘preserving the National Park in aspic’ or resisting all change. It recognises that landscapes are dynamic and the result of management or interactions with people. UK National Parks are listed as IUCN Category V landscapes as ‘areas where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic value’. This is encapsulated within the term ‘natural beauty’ which is part of the statutory purposes ‘to conserve the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage’. The Dartmoor National Park Landscape Character Assessment (2017) provides guidance on how changes in the landscape can be managed and the characteristics of the landscape that are more sensitive to change.
- At the Dartmoor scale seek aligned benefits, or an overall balance, for natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage that recognises the international importance of the National Park’s habitats and archaeological sites and enables the enhancement of nature at scale. Ensure that good examples of all significant archaeological features are still accessible and visible.
- In Premier Archaeological Landscapes (already defined), the primary focus will be to conserve and enhance archaeology. The current set of PALs need to be extended to cover a wider range and distribution of features.
- In Nature Recovery Areas, the primary focus will be nature and letting natural processes take their course.
- Where potential conflict exists between nature enhancement/recovery schemes and archaeology, an initial assessment will be made of the current understanding and significance of archaeological features and any possible mitigation measures identified.
- Where conflicts cannot be avoided, records will be made if there is potential for the asset to be lost or changed.