Time Periods

Modern Moorland

Dartmoor was designated a National Park in 1951. It is managed by the Dartmoor National Park Authority which was set up in 1997. The development of the moor has to balance the conservation of the environment and heritage, the needs of farmers and landowners, and an increasing number of people who use it for leisure pursuits and as a holiday destination.

Land use on Dartmoor today

The duties and purposes of the National Park Authority are to conserve and enhance the natural environment, and to promote opportunities to develop understanding and enjoyment of what Dartmoor has to offer.

Around 90% of the land enclosed by the boundaries of the National Park is used for farming and the industry employs around 2,000 people.  Much of this farmland is moorland which is used to graze livestock.

Firing ranges - take care!

12.5% of the land, which is clearly marked, is also used some of the time for military practice exercises.  There are obvious management challenges in allowing live firing exercises alongside all the other objectives of a national park. If you find any suspicious looking objects, do not touch them; mark the place and report it to the police (08452 777444). Check the ranges web page for firing exercises before walking!

Water and the economy

The moor is an essential part of the region’s water supply network, with several reservoirs and dams supplying the coastal resorts. In times of drought, ruins of farmhouses and even hut circles can be seen as water levels drop, revealing evidence of the past before the valleys were flooded.

The major economic product of Dartmoor today is china clay extraction. Most china clay is now used in paper manufacture; the paper you use for your story writing may well have been whitened by clay from this area!

Leisure and challenges on the moor

Dartmoor is an amazing recreation resource.  Dartmoor supports activities such as the Ten Tors challenge, walking, climbing, cycling, birdwatching and sightseeing. 

Dartmoor today is home to many, and a beautiful place to visit.  The challenge for all users of the moor is to ensure that their use is sustainable so that Dartmoor is available for future generations to enjoy.

Image from Christopher Clift [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons