PEOPLE across the south west have been sharing their views on a beloved national park. 

A survey to help guide the development of a partnership plan for Exmoor National Park ran for five months - and now the results have been revealed. 

Around 1,000 people responded to the survey, giving their views on current issues but also future priorities. 

Head of strategy and performance, Clare Reid, said: “One of our key roles as a National Park Authority is to work with our partners to develop a Partnership (Management) Plan for this special area every five years.

“We have a lot of research and data to feed into the new plan, but it is also important for us to hear the wide-ranging views of the public. Exmoor is protected as a national park for the nation. It is our role to work together with those that live here, help manage this landscape and enjoy all it offers, to ensure it remains as special tomorrow, as it is today.”

South West Farmer: Exmoor.

To view a report which sumarises the survey's key findings, click here

Main survey results (based on certain themes)

  • Conserving and enhancing Exmoor - people were most concerned about loss of wildlife, invasive species and habitat degradation 
  • Helping people understand and enjoy Exmoor - issues raised included irresponsible dog walking, game shoot management and accessibility of footpaths and bridleways 
  • Support for the prosperity of local communities and businesses - people raised concerns about job opportunities, affordable housing, sustainable transport and loss of cultural heritage i.e. skills and traditions 
  • Priorities for the future - the highest ranked ones were improving wildlife habitats, maintaining Exmoor's beauty and facilitating nature recovery 
  • Other priorities included - maintaining and enhancing the paths and bridleways; promoting green businesses; improving energy efficiency; developing and promoting sustainable forms of travel. 

"The survey results underscore the passion that both residents and visitors have for Exmoor's special qualities and highlight those issues requiring focused attention," added Sarah Bryan, CEO of Exmoor National Park Authority.

"This invaluable input will guide the drafting of our new partnership plan, ensuring it aligns with the aspirations of the people we serve and this wonderful landscape.

“It is clear from our own evidence and the results of this survey, that everyone with a passion for Exmoor has to do more for nature. At the same time, we recognise that the National Park is a living landscape, home to a rural population of 10,000 people and is also a national treasure, serving the nation as a place for recreation and inspiration. 

“It was particularly interesting to read the 2,000 comments made in responses, which reveal how much people value Exmoor, but also how views on its future can in places be quite polarised. With current public spending being squeezed there are some big challenges ahead as we strive to find a balance that helps to keep Exmoor special for all, but we are committed to working together to achieve some big ambitions.”

The results of the survey will now be used alongside data gathered through the State of Park report and discussions with partners to devlop a five-year management plan. The draft will be published for consultation in the spring, and adopted later in 2024.