New face on patrol on the Pebblebed Heaths
Sama Euridge has been tasked with helping the public understand the importance of some of the most important landscapes of south and east Devon. Sama, officially called a Habitat Mitigation Officer, is now working on the heaths, as well as the Exe Estuary and Dawlish Warren, helping people get the most out of the landscape while at the same time explaining why it is precious and needs protecting.
Sama said: “I meet and greet walkers, cyclists, dog owners and nature enthusiasts alike, ensuring everyone gets the very best from our natural spaces, without accidentally causing damage to the habitat or detriment to wildlife. I answer questions on heathland management, conservation grazing, birds, botany, and local regulations. The reception I have had has been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone I have met has been so pleased to see me in post, helping to protect the heathland that they love. I feel welcomed into a community.
“I think the best part of the job for me is talking to people about their relationships with the heath and with nature. It is a passion that connects us all - even if you aren’t interested in heathland birds or butterflies and just love a good yomp with the dog. Once I understand people’s relationships with our wild spaces, I can communicate effectively and guide their behaviours to ensure damage to these special places is prevented.
“If everyone I talk to learns just one new fact, or is enthused a little bit about our natural heritage, then I believe that respect for these places, and our desire to conserve them, will grow. We must learn to share this space with the wildlife that lives here and behave responsibly. It’s about coexisting in harmony.”
Sama is employed by East Devon District Council on behalf of a partnership with Exeter and Teignbridge councils called the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Partnership, set up to help protect the natural environment in the face of increasing visitor numbers. The partnership also includes Clinton Devon Estates, the Exe Estuary Management Partnership, Devon Wildlife Trust and the RSPB, and funding has come via contributions from developers of new housing across the three council areas.
Kate Ponting, the Countryside Learning Officer for Clinton Devon Estates, said: “The Pebblebed Heaths are recognised nationally and internationally as being among the most important conservation sites in Europe, and help to support more than 3,000 different species, 300 of which are of special conservation significance.
“Just as importantly, they are incredibly well loved by local people of all ages who visit the heaths to be able to enjoy this wonderful natural environment.
“The core area of the heaths is managed by the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, a charity established in 2006 by Clinton Devon Estates, who own the land. The trust is responsible for the management of the site, and the welfare of the species it supports, and employs two dedicated wardens who work with the local community, and many enthusiastic volunteers, to help care for this special place.
“We very much welcome the opportunity to work in close partnership with local councils and their new mitigation officers to support our work protecting and enhancing the heaths for the benefit of all.”