Since the announcement of North Devon U.K. as the next World Surfing Reserve in April of 2022, the Local Stewardship Council has been hard at work developing its unique stewardship plan, responding to urgent threats to the surf ecosystem, hosting events, and preparing for their dedication in 2023.
Building a Strong Team
A key element that ensures the protection of a World Surfing Reserve is durable is the formation of a strong Local Stewardship Council composed of key individuals from various sectors of the community. The North Devon LSC includes a core team of 6 individuals who carry the work forward while the entire extended team consists of representatives from local government, environmental organizations, beaches and tourism agencies, educational institutions, and more. In building this strong foundation of support from the local community and including experts in various fields, North Devon is well equipped to take on the environmental challenges posed by climate change and its associated impacts.
The key to maintaining and ensuring the health of a WSRs natural resources is developing a functioning stewardship plan that guides the focus and activities of the Local Stewardship Council. It is the roadmap to ensuring that the WSR protects its waves and coastal ecosystems for generations to come.
While North Devon exists between a nexus of marine protected areas and land protections, there are unique threats to the surf ecosystem that will be addressed by the World Surfing Reserve and the expansive Local Stewardship Council. Primarily, the WSR will focus on maintaining and improving water quality in the surf zone, preventing harmful coastal development, mitigating the impacts of climate change and coastal erosion, ensuring equitable access, and promoting an inclusive surf culture so all people can enjoy a great day in the surf.
Protecting Water Quality and Promoting Sound Policy
While building their conservation vision and assembling their LSC, the team on the ground has also been active in responding to urgent threats including water quality impairments and infrastructure projects. North Devon has raised the alarm on an alarming number of sewage discharges into the surf ecosystem by the water and sewage company serving the North Devon area. Working with STW partner and LSC member organization Surfers Against Sewage, the team is building a plan to respond to the threat through a mobilization campaign and putting pressure on the local government to enforce the law and penalize the industry for their actions.
Another project the WSR is engaged with is a windfarm project 50 km off the North Devon coast. While supportive of the concept of creating renewable energy off the coast, the WSR is engaging with the company to ensure that there is a transparent public process and the scientific modeling shows that there would be no impact on the surf ecosystem.
You can follow along with the development of the North Devon World Surfing Reserve by following their social media account @northdevonworldsurfingreserve and visiting their website northdevonsurfreserve.com for the latest updates.
The Resrve was also featured in a recent New York Times article.