River otter


The River Otter Estuary covers an area of 33 hectares and along with the cliffs of Otterton Point is designated a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the fine saltmarsh habitat it supports and the adjacent Triassic sandstone rocks of considerable paleontological interest.

The Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust manages and maintains the estuary. The site is adjacent to Budleigh Salteron and is home to one of the most popular footpaths in East Devon, running alongside an old 18th Century embankment that cuts through the floodplain.

The estuary itself contains a wide range of saltmarsh communities, which together with additional areas of reed bed, tall herb and scrub support high numbers of breeding and overwintering bird species. Over 120 species of bird have been recorded on the site, including a number of particular conservation interest, including the whimbrel and black-tailed godwit.

Current work on the estuary includes: increasing wading bird interest through the creation of scrapes on the adjacent marshland habitat; the management of reed beds; the provision of interpretation and the control of invasive species.

Our local conservation partners include the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Otter Valley Association and the Devon Bird watching and Preservation Society.

The lower otter restoration project

The Lower Otter Estuary is a very special place. It provides a habitat for a wide variety of breeding and wintering bird species, whilst being enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors each year. This site, however, faces growing challenges due to climate change.

The Lower Otter Restoration Project aims to work with local people and partner organisations to explore how we can preserve and improve the downstream section of the River Otter, its estuary, and its immediate surroundings for future generations in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

Currently, we are examining the possibility of a managed realignment scheme where the River Otter meets the sea near Budleigh Salterton. Our aim is to re-connect the river to its historical floodplain and create a much larger and resilient inter-tidal reserve of international conservation significance.

The project is being considered because the existing 200-year-old sea defences are now starting to fail and are becoming increasingly hard to maintain.

To find out more about the challenges facing the Lower Otter Estuary and how you can support the Lower Otter Restoration Project, visit the website.