1976 saw Braunton Burrows established as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, because of its internationally important role in conservation. Ecologists have become increasingly aware that the viability of a reserve depends upon the pattern of land use in their hinterlands, so the reserve was subsequently expanded in 2002 to create buffer zones around it, thereby bringing Bideford within the scope of the reserve. The overall aim is to foster an area where quality of natural environment sustainably co-exists with that of human life.
In 1982 the Pollyfield Community Centre opened its doors for the first time. Over the years it has grown as a community resource and, despite a difficult patch in 2004-9, now seems well on the way to recovery. An existing BMX track on the site was upgraded to Olympic-size in 2010 and in 2013 work began on an Olympic legacy funded boxing and fitness centre.