The management plan for Dartmoor National Park is the single most important plan for the future of the park. It is the strategic plan which will guide decisions affecting Dartmoor’s future over the next five years.
Look at it and you will see that listed are key drivers and challengers under three sections – Sustain, Enjoy and Prosper.
Look more closely and as well as concern over environmental impacts from extensive grazing, to under-grazing (yes, both can co-exist) to the spread of non-native species and impact of light pollution, the more human aspects of the national park have been listed as well. Here are just three:
• Sustain – Loss of cultural heritage such as threats to local fairs and traditions for example.
• Enjoy – Encouraging growth and resilience in the local economy through the diversity of
business types and employment.
• Prosper – Improving understanding and appreciation of Dartmoor by a wide range of people.
I live in Okehampton – one of the nine towns and villages that form what are known as the moorland towns. Each has its own character yet Okehampton (located in England’s most rural parliamentary constituency of Central Devon) is suffering. Essential services have disappeared and although our high street is small, shops remain empty.
And yet, innovation and entrepreneurship are everywhere in our local community. Not just in Okehampton but throughout the Dartmoor community as a whole. Within these communities are people that are inspired by their personal connection with Dartmoor – whether they be local artisans such as soap or felt makers, food producers, musicians, or farm cooperatives or community farms. There are music festivals, food festivals, and frequent farmers’ markets. There’s even an award winning brewery.
And this is how the idea of Eternal Landscapes Dartmoor has taken shape. The main ethos of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia is community based tourism – supporting local. But, that philosophy actually was created somewhere completely different to Mongolia – Dartmoor National Park – where I have grown up and where I make my home when I’m not in Mongolia.
And so the slow steps have started towards creating a Dartmoor version of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia. Creating a social enterprise that puts the local people, local communities and local environment at the centre of the experiences we will offer. To showcase the history, the
landscapes, the skills, the knowledge and the passion that help to form the character of my beloved Dartmoor.
It’s a work in progress (I have terrible time management and am hopeless at keeping a diary or personal organiser ) but the ball has started to roll.