Royal Marines lead by example with litter sweep on the commons
Royal Marine recruits from the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone have carried out a Christmas litter picking operation on the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths as part of Exercise Woodbury Sweep.
As well as removing debris from Royal Marine training exercises, the troops collected sacks of civilian litter left behind on the conservation area by visitors.
Captain Steve Cotton from the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines Lympstone said: "We are very fortunate to have access to such a versatile training area and we are committed to ensuring our activity does not damage this very important heathland.
"Although our trainees are under orders not to leave any kind of debris or litter, we undertake a sweep after exercises to ensure our activity does not adversely impact on the ecology and biodiversity of this important wildlife area. At the same time we also find and remove a large quantity of litter left by the general public which goes some way towards ensuring the long-term well-being of the area."
The East Devon Pebblebed Heaths, which are owned by Clinton Devon Estates and managed by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, are within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Designated as a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protction Area they sit at the top of the hierarchy of European conservation sites. They are also recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the UK.
Sam Bridgewater, Nature Conservation Manager for Clinton Devon Estates said: "We urge people to come and enjoy the heaths but to be mindful of their special conservation value and take away what they bring with them to help us protect the wildlife and allow others to enjoy its unspoilt beauty."
The East Devon Pebblebed Heaths have been used by the Royal Marines for training since 1939 and the start of World War Two when the needs of the war required the Royal Marines to expand. Since then the commons have provided the ideal terrain for important basic-skills training, with all recruits now briefed on its conservation importance by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust.
Public access to all 2,800 acres of heath land is protected under the 2000 Crow Act.