Braunton Burrows biosphere reserve
Braunton Burrows and Northam Burrows in North Devon are internationally important because of their sand dunes.
In 2002, an internationally important area of sand dunes in North Devon was declared Britain's first Unesco biosphere reserve.
The designation of 3,120 hectares of Braunton Burrows means it ranks alongside Mount Vesuvius in Italy and the Danube Delta in eastern Europe.
The biosphere reserve also takes in Northam Burrows, the Taw-Torridge estuary and Braunton Marshes.
The dunes are important for flora and fauna
Braunton Burrows is one of the largest sand dune systems in the UK, and the dunes are held together by creeping plants - mainly Marram Grass.
The site is considered internationally important because of the diversity and abundance of rare flora and continuous human use over the centuries.
The dunes contain about 500 species of flowering plants - it is one of only two UK sites for the Water Germander, and has a wide range of rare orchids.
In amongst the Creeping Willow, you can spot red Poplar Leaf Beetles, and on a sunny day, the dunes are alive with butterflies such as Marbled Whites, Graylings, Ringlets and Skippers.
Taw Torridge Estuary, meanwhile, is nationally important for overwintering birds and the mudflats they feed on.
Unesco biosphere reserves aren't just about nature, however. They recognise places which are special for people as well. The three criteria looked at are conservation,
You can find out more by clicking onto the links to the Braunton biosphere reserve and Unesco websites.
last updated: 27/02/2008 at 14:08