Back, left to right: Stewart Barr, Richard Brazier, Lee Bray, Robin Milton, Helen Blackman, Chris Binney
Front, left to right: Keith Howe, Rachel Thomas (Society Chair), Meriel Martin

Exmoor Society Spring Conference showcasing Exeter's research a success

Sixty years ago Exmoor was designated a national park because of its dramatic coastline, extensive tracts of moorland inter-mixed with ancient woodland and upland farmland, the whole establishing a mosaic of contrasts providing recreational opportunities for walking and riding in particular. The Hobhouse Report stated that “here is a potential national park which is happily free from problems”. This statement could not have been further from the truth. From the beginning there was fierce opposition to the designation and robust debate over loss of moorland, afforestation proposals, changing hill farming practices, dealing with extreme weather conditions, and with little known about the archaeology, other local businesses, and only an embryo tourist industry. These issues are very relevant today in different ways, and underline the need to discover more about Exmoor, its people and the place.

At a special conference to celebrate the anniversary in 2014 the Exmoor Society, in partnership with the Exmoor National Park Authority, teamed up with Exeter University and the Centre for Rural Policy Research to raise some of these important issues, to discover what has been found out about them, and to influence the debate on how to manage this complex landscape.  Entitled ‘Discovering Exmoor – People and Place’ the conference was designed to showcase research focused on Exmoor from both current and past academic staff and graduates of Exeter University.

Organised on behalf of CRPR by Dr Keith Howe, presentations included:

Dr Lee Bray – New archaeological discoveries on Exmoor
Professor Richard Brazier – Can we create resilient landscapes? Understanding the effects of moorland restoration on the Exmoor Mires project.
Dr Keith Howe and Robin Milton - Exmoor farming in a changing policy environment
Dr Stewart Barr – Flooding and Communities
Dr Keith Howe – Summary and observations

23 April 2014

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