Wealth of Wildlife
What’s so special about Dartmoor?
Dartmoor is the largest and highest upland in southern Britain and has been home to people for over 5,000 years. Together with the climate, weather and geology, the activity of our ancestors has shaped the landscape as we know it and helped create diverse habitats and in turn special animal and plant communities. Rocky tors, thickly wooded valleys, vast open moorland, bogs, flower-rich pastures and fast-flowing rivers all offer habitats to a variety of wildlife.
Because of its outstanding natural beauty, Dartmoor was designated as a National Park in 1951. This gives the Park special protection and the Dartmoor National Park Authority now has a statutory duty to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of Dartmoor and encourage the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Park by the public.
When you think of Dartmoor many images come to mind. Swirling mists, wild remote landscapes, ponies, craggy tors, rushing rivers, gnarled woodlands, vast bogs and tracts of colourful heathers and gorse. In the past Dartmoor was regarded as a wasteland but over the last century the open wilderness has become widely appreciated and is now a popular place for visitors. The wildlife of Dartmoor is also very special and characteristic species include buzzard, otter, salmon, dipper and skylark. Many rare species occur here too. Some have national or even international strongholds within the National Park such as the high brown and marsh fritillary butterflies.
This Wealth of Wildlife section of the website is designed to help you discover more about Dartmoor’s wildlife before you come to visit.
The Wealth of Wildlife Project was funded by Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) and is designed to raise awareness and encourage the enjoyment of wildlife on Dartmoor by visitors. Fifty businesses including accommodation providers, attractions, activity centres, pubs and cafés, were visited by an ecologist who surveyed the grounds and produced a tailor-made folder of wildlife information for each establishment for their visitors to use. If you would like to visit any of these businesses, follow the link to Wealth of Wildlife Businesses below. Please use the links below to find out more about Dartmoor's wildlife.
- Dartmoor Hill Farm Project
- Species - Darmoor Specialities
- Sites of Nature Conservation Interest
Dartmoor throughout the seasons:
- Spring Leaflet 134Kb (PDF Help)
- Summer Leaflet 925Kb (PDF Help)
- Autumn Leaflet 742Kb (PDF Help)
- Winter Leaflet 680Kb (PDF Help)
- WoW Businessess
- Further reading
With so much to see throughout the year, why not come to see the seasonal changes and stay overnight? Perhaps stay in one of the featured Wealth of Wildlife establishments. Don’t forget to bring outdoor clothing, a camera and binoculars! The High Moorland Visitor Centre and the online shop stock a range of reference guides, together with lightweight laminated cards, for you to keep in your pocket, of different habitat areas. A range of guided walks are also available throughout the year with trained Guides who can help you to spot wildlife.
Elsewhere on this website take a look at our factsheets and leaflets, alternative places to stay and Moor Care which tells you how to help look after Dartmoor. For detailed ecological information about the Meldon area visit our online Case Study.