To ensure that the natural beauty of the Blackdown Hills continues to be appreciated and nurtured, we:

  • Communicate the value of the landscape, biodiversity and history of the Blackdown Hills
  • Provide opportunities for people to learn about and visit the Blackdown Hills AONB
  • Help people access the area to improve their health and wellbeing
  • Involve and support the people and organisations who are helping to look after this protected landscape
  • Encourage sustainable forms of social and economic development.

As we go about our work we consider the needs of agriculture, forestry, and other rural industries, along with the economic and social needs of local communities.

Working together

The Blackdown Hills AONB is looked after by Blackdown Hills AONB Partnership, and a team of staff based in Hemyock. While the team is itself small, our work is amplified by collaborating with a network of organisations, businesses, farmers, landowners and local communities who care for the countryside and heritage of the area.


Our work is enhanced through a range of projects which focus on the cultural and natural heritage of the Blackdown Hills AONB, working alongside local and national organisations and involving local communities

Landscape Enhancement Initiative

Start Date: 01/10/2019 End Date: 31/10/2024

Blackdown Hills AONB secured funding from National Grid’s Landscape Enhancement Initiative to restore and enhance landscape features within the National Grid transmission line corridor in a project called Enhancing the Hills.

Nature Recovery Plan

Start Date: 01/07/2019 End Date: 01/07/2024

In 2019, Blackdown Hills AONB, along with Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) across the country, signed up to the Colchester Declaration. This is an ambitious plan to recover nature in and beyond protected landscapes, build climate resilience and enhance engagement with people.

Somerset Nature Connections

Start Date: 01/01/2020 End Date: 01/01/2023

Somerset Nature Connections is a partnership project between Somerset Wildlife Trust and the three Somerset Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The project aims to help individuals and groups to connect with nature to benefit their physical and mental health, to reduce some of the barriers which prevent people from accessing natural spaces, and develop a network of skilled volunteers who can support communities for the longer term.

Connecting the Culm

Start Date: 01/01/2019 End Date: 30/06/2022

Connecting the Culm is a three year project which aims to make the River Culm and its floodplain more resilient to flood and drought, improve water quality, support biodiversity and habitat, and involve local people and organisations in the process.

Farming & Woodland Group

Start Date: 01/06/2018 End Date: 01/06/2021

Following a successful partnership bid to Natural England, a new training and collaboration network has been set up for farmers and other land managers within the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This is known as the Blackdown Hills Farming and Woodland Group.

Woods for Water

Start Date: 01/12/2017 End Date: 31/03/2021

The aim of the Woods for Water project is to stimulate woodland planting and management in appropriate locations to combat flooding and improve water quality.

ELM Tests & Trials

Start Date: 09/01/2019 End Date: 31/03/2021

Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is one of 12 AONBs in England taking part a National Association for AONBs programme to provide information to help Defra in the design of the new Environmental Land Management System.

Nature and Wellbeing

Start Date: 01/02/2016 End Date: 30/08/2020

The Nature and Wellbeing project helped members of the local community make the most of Somerset’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) by participating in activities that improve their physical and mental wellbeing.  

Discovering Dunkeswell Abbey

Start Date: 12/04/2019 End Date: 30/04/2020

The purpose of the Discovering Dunkeswell Abbey project was to raise the profile of Dunkeswell Abbey which has a rich cultural and historic interest. The project helped the local community connect with and understand the site through an archaeology programme, multi-generational engagement activities and on-site interpretation material.

Corry and Coly Natural Flood Management

Start Date: 01/12/2018 End Date: 01/03/2020

Working in partnership with the Environment Agency, Devon County Council's Flood and Coastal Risk Team, East Devon AONB Partnership, Westcountry Rivers Trust and FWAG South West, a two-year project is underway to tackle flooding and water quality in these two sub-catchments.

Field boundaries & linear landscape features

Start Date: 01/04/2018 End Date: 31/03/2019

This project, funded by Historic England, shines a spotlight on the important field boundaries and linear landscape features of the Blackdown Hills AONB and highlights the important role they play in the landscape, their heritage value and the benefits that they provide to people.

Culm Community Crayfish project

Start Date: 31/01/2018 End Date: 31/01/2019

The white-clawed crayfish – the UK's only native crayfish – is under threat. The River Culm, in the Blackdown Hills AONB, is one of only two sites in Devon where the endangered, white-clawed crayfish remains. In January 2018, we embarked on the Culm Community Crayfish project with a view to helping communities around the River Culm learn about, survey and look after this endangered species.

Catchment Communities Conference

Start Date: 19/10/2018 End Date: 19/10/2018

The Catchment Communities Conference, on Friday 19 October 2018, brought together community representatives, land owners and managers, and practitioners from the East Devon Catchment Partnership with a view to working together for the future health of the river catchments of the Axe (including Yarty), Otter, Culm and Clyst.

Culm Enhancement Project

Start Date: 01/12/2017 End Date: 30/03/2018

Through the East Devon Catchment Partnership, Blackdown Hills AONB secured £20,000 to provide nature-based solutions across the upper catchment of the River Culm to address water quality issues identified in the Water Framework Directive.

Blackdown Hills Natural Futures

Start Date: 09/11/2017 End Date: 18/11/2017

Blackdown Hills Natural Futures project enabled us to find out more about the natural heritage of the Blackdown Hills, to raise awareness of the area’s natural heritage and to help local communities to build the skills and the confidence to set up their own nature projects.

Dunkeswell War Stories

Start Date: 01/12/2016 End Date: 01/08/2017

During the second world war, Dunkeswell  Airfield was the only US naval air base on British soil. Our Dunkeswell War Stories project set about telling the story of Dunkeswell during this period of its history, and created a series of school resources.

Metal Makers

Start Date: 01/09/2014 End Date: 01/06/2015

For centuries, the sounds, sweat and smoke of iron-working were part of life in the Blackdown Hills. The rich iron-working past of The Blackdown Hills was rooted in this area’s geology and, in turn, the iron-working industry has left its mark on the landscape. The aim of the Metal Makers project was to bring to life and increase understanding of the ancient iron-working heritage of the Blackdown Hills.

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