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Natural Environment

Landscape photo of northern Dartmoor

Dartmoor’s natural environment is unique. The granite massif rises out of the Devon lowlands to form a dramatic landscape with a distinctive geology, flora and fauna. This canvas has been modified by thousands of years of human activity but in less intensive ways than elsewhere in lowland Britain, at least in recent centuries. Here there is still space for people and nature to live side by side.

The first purpose of the Dartmoor National Park Authority is to conserve the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of Dartmoor and promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of these areas by the general public.

In undertaking this work for the natural environment, the Authority
  • provides advice and information to local people, businesses and organisations
  • works in partnership with other countryside agencies on joint areas of activity
  • owns and manages land (including moorland and woodland)
  • organises special projects which focus on particular areas or subjects.

Designated Sites on Dartmoor

A number of sites within the National Park have been chosen due to their outstanding wildlife or geological value.  Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) have been designated for their international importance under the EC Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora, usually referred to simply as the Habitats Directive.  These sites are part of the EU-wide Natura 2000 network of protected areas which covers all of the most important wildlife sites in Europe.  Nationally valuable sites (which includes all the SACs), have been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Importance (SSSIs) under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Natural Environment mapYou can see what parts of Dartmoor are SACs and/or SSSIs by accessing the Designated Sites Map. This provides access to an interactive map which shows both SSSI and SAC designations. You can use the map to determine what designations (if any) fall in your area of interest. You can either search by entering the nearest settlement or a postcode.

This system is provided for guidance only, for further information on SACs and SSSIs you should contact the Geographical Information Unit, Natural England, (external site, opens new window)

If you have a query regarding conservation status, need to apply for consent, or wish to apply to undertake an operation within an SSSI Please contact Natural England via email or

Page last updated: 10 Oct 2011
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