Landscape & Wildlife
The AONB landscape is heavily wooded it is also essentially a farmed landscape; agriculture and forestry play a key role in shaping the countryside. Open sweeping views from the ridge tops and the intimacy of quiet secluded valleys are recurring experiences as you travel through the AONB. A journey throught the area also reveals the complexity of the land cover, with its rich patchwork of crops, pastures, woods, fens, trees, rivers, hedgerows and stonewalls.
More detailed information about the landscape, past and present, can be found in the Management Plan.
Field boundaries in the Howardian Hills mainly consist of hedges, with some stone walls on the higher ground. Hedges are therefore an important component of the AONB landscape. Grant aid has been offered towards the replacement of broken-down fences with new species-rich hedges, the re-creation of histric or relict hedgelines and the gapping up of hedges. Species planted include hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, guelder rose crab apple, hazel, holly and wych elm. Plastic guards are used to prevent rabbits and hares eating the new plants and when required hedges are fenced to prevent them from stock damage.
Wildlife and Habitats
The patchwork character of the AONB landscape means that it contains a wide range of habitats; fens, trees and woods, rivers and streams, agricultural land, heathland and areas so complex that they can really only be reffered to as 'mosaics'. The habitats support an equally diverse range of fauna and flora; some of which cover large areas and use a selection of habitats and others which keep to a locality and a specific habitat. Much of the work of the AONB Unit is on a habitat scale, however, species specific projects are also undertaken.
Please use the links below to find out more about the work undertaken to conserve and enhance habitats and wildlife:
Exmoor Pony Project
Did you know that Exmoor Ponies are rarer than the Giant Panda? Exmoor Ponies have been used since 2002 to help manage some of the most important grassland sites in the area.