North Devon first in UK to become World Surfing Reserve

CroydeImage source, N and M Photography
Image caption,
Powerful swell sweeps into Croyde, one of the best known surfing spots in north Devon

North Devon has become the first place in the UK to be selected as a World Surfing Reserve (WSR).

It joins a list that includes Malibu and Santa Cruz in California, and the Gold Coast and Manly in Australia.

The WSR recognises the quality of the surf as well as the sport's importance to the wider community.

The WSR programme was launched in 2009 in California with the aim of "protecting surf ecosystems around the globe".

Image source, Waves for All Forever
Image caption,
Young surfers enjoy taking part on a calmer day in north Devon

The north Devon coast already has Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty protection.

And an area around Braunton Burrows is a Unesco Biosphere for its landscapes, wildlife areas and cultural heritage.

The reserve covers about 30km (19 miles) of coastline.

A WSR spokesperson said: "Its high density of outstanding surf, at iconic breaks such as Croyde, Saunton, Woolacombe, and Lynmouth, caters to wave-riders from beginner to expert and a variety of surfing styles."

Image source, Gordon Dryburgh
Image caption,
Beautiful Woolacombe lights up under a blue sky: Reserve campaigners want to help influence decision makers
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
North Devon has joined the ranks of world-famous surf spots such as Malibu beach in Los Angeles

North Devon surfer Kevin Cook, who proposed making the area a surfing reserve, said he hoped the new designation would "help influence" decision makers.

"We are about collaboration and taking existing good practice to keep an eye on what's going on and ensure that the future of north Devon is protected," he said.

Water pollution was a "key thing", he said.

"It seems crazy to be pumping out gallons of sewage into the ocean and spoiling the beaches we have," he said.

"Our water quality is good but it could be better and we need that extra spending on infrastructure by water companies to make sure we are not tarnishing the future."

Image source, Rob Tibbles
Image caption,
Putsborough shows shape and power

He also wanted to support "projects to encourage wellbeing because there's something very special about surfing".

He said: "Being in the water brings a special feeling you can't experience anywhere else so it's important for as many people to share it as possible.

"We are really excited about it, north Devon is a very special place."

Adam Hall, co-founder of the surfing reserve in North Devon, said: "Our core focus is looking after the quality of the waves themselves and preserving the ecosystems that produce them.

"Surf spots need to be celebrated, recognised and protected in the same way we protect and recognise beautiful national parks like Exmoor."

Image source, Ester Spears
Image caption,
Groomed peaks curl into Lynmouth

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