The new Ouse Washes LP Website is Live!!

Today is a very exciting day as we are finally able to share our new website with the world!

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Website screen capture home page 18 12 2014

Please pass on the message to others: www.ousewashes.org.uk

 

This website is intended to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for local people and visitors to explore the Ouse Washes Landscape:

  • Explore the Ouse Washes LP area’s tourist attractions, nature reserves and museums in more detail through our interactive Explore map;
  • Find out what’s going on in the area through our What’s on section;
  • Find out how you can get involved through our projects, events and our volunteering options in our Get Involved section
  • Find out what makes the Ouse Washes LP area special, by reading through our Discover section;
  • The Ouse News is our old WordPress blog incorporated in this new website – keep up to date of all new events, project development and information about the area though this newsreel
  • And a lot more – go on, find out for yourself!

 

Do let us know what you think about the new website – we want this to be useful for you, so please help us make things better – drop us a line through the Contact section.

 

Happy reading!

 

Press release: Press release_New website for Ouse Washes Landscape now live!

Denver Sluice Complex, one of the key hubs in the Ouse Washes Landscape area. Image: Kite Aerial Photography by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation

Denver Sluice Complex, one of the key hubs in the Ouse Washes Landscape area. Image: Kite Aerial Photography by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation

 

Impressions of the Ouse Washes LP conference

 

logosWe had a fantastic day last week in the Corn Exchange in St Ives. This excellent venue was the scene for the first annual conference for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme. With a range of speakers, 112 attendees – representing over 64 organisations – and 20 exhibitors on the day we were off to a good start.

This conference, ‘Conservation, Farming, Flooding: our Natural Landscape?’ – the first in a series of three taking place annually – explored the natural landscape of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area. The conference aimed to provide attendees with an overview of future management challenges including issues around biodiversity value, wetland habitat creation, farming challenges, water management and flood relief.

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Full house in the St Ives Corn Exchange. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP

A range of speakers from several key organisations (Natural England; RSPB; National Farmers’ Union; Environment Agency; and a consultant botanist who has carried out work for the OWLP scheme) provided for a rounded view of the central theme of the day.

This was followed by lively discussions focusing on the question which priorities  Ouse Washes Partnership need to set for this important landscape to ensure a sustainable future for this landscape. By bringing together local people and a range of partner organisations with a range of land-use interests we have encouraged stimulating debate and helped promote a wider appreciation and understanding of the challenges of living and working in this ever-changing landscape.

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Impression of conference. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

We have had a lot of good feedback, with the vast majority of people I have spoken to or received feedback from finding the day very enjoyable, highly informative, great for networking opportunities and with lots of food for thought as a result of stimulating round table discussions. In addition, there were 20 informative exhibitions from a range of organisations involved or associated with the partnership, great food, and an excellent walk to the nearby Holt island Nature Reserve at the end of the day.

Below are some images of the conference. If anyone, whether you attended or not, has any further questions, do drop me a line. Later down the line there will also be a report summarising the discussions on the day, and a short film will also be produced by NorthLight Media who took photographs and videos throughout the day – watch this space for further updates.

The results of the conference will feed into the ongoing legacy planning work of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership, with the recommendations and ideas generated helping the partnership’s work tremendously. Thank you all for your input!

 

Related posts and pages:

 

 

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The Mayor of St Ives starting the day. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP

 

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John Heading, farmer and IDB Chair, and OWLP Board member, Chairing the day. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alastair Burn, Natural England, setting the scene for the day, talking about the wetland vision for the Fens. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP

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Jonathan Graham, Consultant Botanist, providing data of new research on the biodiversity value of the fenland ditches in the OWLP area. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP

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Jonathan Graham, explaining the biodiversity value of the Fen ditches in the OWLP area. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

 

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Chris Hudson, RSPB, giving an understanding of the Ouse Fen nature reserve developments. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP

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Rob Wise, National Farmers’ Union, giving an overview of the Fen farmers’ challenges and opportunities. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP

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Peter Doktor, Environment Agency, explaining the reasons for the new habitat creation schemes next to the Ouse Washes. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP

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Peter Doktor, Environment Agency. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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Round table discussions. Image: Bill Blake Heritage Documentation.

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Round table discussions. Image: Bill Blake Heritage Documentation.

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Round table discussions. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP.

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Round table discussions. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP.

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Round table discussions. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP.

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Round table discussions. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP.

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Round table discussions. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP.

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Round table discussions. Image: NorthLight Media, for OWLP.

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ADeC’s display of the three newly created murals. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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ADeC’s display of the three newly created murals. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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RSPB and Jonathan Graham’s displays. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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Various displays in Corn Exchange. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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ACE’s display. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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Bill Blake’s display of KAP imagery. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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Athene Communication’s display of the results of the ‘Opening up the Ouse Washes to All’ workshops.Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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Barn Owl Conservation Network’s display. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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East Anglian Waterways Association’s display. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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Green Light Trust’s display. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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Fens Museum Partnership’s brand new animated film about the Ouse Washes. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

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Guided walk on nearby Holt Island Nature Reserve, led by Ian Jackson. image: @TheBrecksBNG

 

New job with RSPB for Ouse Washes LP scheme – now open

logosFollowing from previous staffing posts created for the WWT, Green Light Trust and for the Rosmini Centre, a fourth position with the OWLP key partners is now made available through the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme – with the RSPB, who is looking for a Community Engagement Officer.

This is an exciting opportunity to work closely with local farmers and conservation organisations, to help promote and enhance wildlife friendly farming in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

This position will be crucial to the delivery of the RSPB project within the OWLP scheme called ‘Wildlife Friendly Farming & Community Engagement’; the main aim, of this project is to bring wildlife-friendly farmers together in the vicinity of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area, to deliver an integrated community engagement programme designed to promote awareness of, learning about and on-going access to the area’s unique farm wildlife and archaeological heritage.

 

The post, which went live on Monday, is described as such:

We are looking for an enthusiastic and engaging person to grow our farm wildlife conservation efforts in the Cambridgeshire Fens, by increasing awareness, understanding and support for nature-friendly farming in the local community.

The RSPB has been successful in securing Heritage Lottery funding as part of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership, to help local people reconnect with a rich natural and cultural farmland heritage.

You will work closely with local nature-friendly farmers to design and deliver a programme of events, talks and wildlife ID training for local residents, schools and farmers.

By encouraging people of all ages to engage with their landscape through farm walks and activities, you will build support for nature-friendly farming and local producers, and enable farmers to tell the story of their work and the benefits for wildlife, ensuring continued support in the future,

An excellent communicator, you will have demonstrable experience of organising public events, as well as in-depth knowledge of farm wildlife and the challenges it faces.

With an office base at Welches Dam, Manea, you will be expected to undertake regular travel in the local area and elsewhere within the Fens.

 

The closing date for applications is 20 October 2014.

For the full job details and finding out how to apply, go to http://www.rspb.org.uk/vacancies/details/383486-community-engagement-officer

local kids on a bug hunt on a wildlife-friendly farm

Families on a bug hunt on a wildlife-friendly farm. Image: copyright Niki Williamson / RSPB.

 

Conservation, Farming, Flooding: Our Natural Landscape?

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up the level from pymoor wide view Copyright Bill Blake Heritage Documentation

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Annual Conference

Wednesday 19 November 2014  – 9am – 2pm

Anyone interested in the Ouse Washes area is invited to attend the first-ever Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Conference which is taking place on Wednesday 19 November from 9am – 2pm at The Corn Exchange in St Ives, Cambridgeshire.

This conference – the first in a series of three, taking place annually – will explore the natural landscape of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area. The conference aims to provide attendees with an overview of future management challenges including issues around landscape-scale conservation, biodiversity value, agricultural importance and flood relief. A background to wetland creation schemes in the area will be given through presentations with discussion facilitated in small groups regarding the future importance of the natural landscape.

The Ouse Washes landscape area has a multitude of different uses. It has an important role in flood risk prevention; it is made up of high quality agricultural land; and its internationally-renowned nature reserves provide a vital home for wildlife. This conference will look at whether these competing uses can be reconciled and balanced whilst making the area a great place to live and work.

The Partnership aims to increase awareness of the significant natural heritage of the area. Bringing together local people and partner organisations with a range of land-use interests will promote a wider appreciation and understanding of the challenges of living and working in this ever-changing landscape.

Download the Invitation and Programme , or see depicted below: Invite p1 Invite p2 Agenda p3 Time has been allowed for opinions to be aired, giving all attendees a chance to contribute to the wider debate about the future of the Ouse Washes landscape. Change will continue to be a feature of this rapidly evolving landscape and the views and ideas generated by attendees will feed into the OWLP legacy planning work, with clear recommendations and actions coming from this conference.

St Ives Corn Exchange, the site for the first Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership’s conference. Image source: http://thecornexchange.org.uk/about-us/

To book a place, please visit: www.ousewashesconference2014.eventbrite.co.uk

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership’s central team looks forward to receiving your booking, and information if you want to book a display/ exhibit space.

Invasives non-native species – how to ID and control

logosOn Friday, a packed room of participants came together in March to learn about identifying and controlling non-native invasive water plants.

This was a very good event, judging from the numerous positive responses heard by my colleague Abby and myself, both of us attending this event to up our own skills and to meet a range of stakeholders.

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Consultant botanist Jonathan Graham in July 2014 during fieldwork in local ditches near WWT Welney reserve as part of the OWLP’s ‘Ditch Management to the East of the Ouse Washes’ project; using his grappling hook to collect plant samples. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE for OWLP.

This event was made possible through the Heritage Lottery Fund grant money for one of the 25 projects within the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme, the ‘Ditch Management to the East of the Ouse Washes’ project. Following successful fieldwork carried out by Jonathan Graham (consultant botanist) and Martin Hammond (consultant aquatic invertebrate specialist), Jonathan Graham, together with Cliff Carson (Environmental Officer, Middle Level Commissioners) delivered this exiting training half-day event.

After an introduction about invasive species, and a differentiation between ‘non-native’ and ‘invasive’ species (‘invasives’ being ‘non-natives which have a tendency to spread and pose a threat to the environment and/or human health), we continued with an overview of the mist important invasive water plants to look out for.

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Packed room during Friday’s event; Cliff Carson, Middle Level Commissioners, setting the scene for the day. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE for OWLP.

The top five ‘hazardous species’ (some of which are already wide-spread, some still only locally present) are [click on links to get to relevant description pages on www.nonnativespecies.org – note: click on ‘link to ID sheet’ for handy pdfs for each species]:

  1. Floating Pennywort
  2. New Zealand Pigmyweed
  3. Parrot’s Feather
  4. Floating & Water Primrose
  5. Water Fern

With examples on each table of these species, as well as native species with which they could be confused, we then all went to learn to identify these, with the help of several specialists walking around the room  (including both speakers as well as Charles Turner, Research Associate Quaternary Palaeoecology, for the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge).

A range of very useful handouts also passed on the day; these include:

 

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Jonathan Graham helping with ID of specimens, both native and non-native invasive water plants. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE for OWLP.

 

This workshop/ training event was a very practical approach to finding out what is there and how to identify the non-natives; plus guidance how to avoid mis-recording (e.g., some similar-looking rare fen specialist plants that could be confusing).

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A range of plant specimens and ID guides on each table during last week’s event. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE for OWLP.

 

The event was attended by a wide range of people, including staff from Internal Drainage Boards, Middle Level Commissioners, Natural England, several conservation organisations as well as representatives of various local community groups. Some of the abundant positive feedback we received from participants:

“Good to have some training, much better than just looking at books or cards”

 ” It always opens your eyes when you are shown what to look out for!”

“Session invaluable, very useful to see plants up close”

” The various methods of control were compared, contrasted and explained”

“Excellent idea for promoting and sharing knowledge of invasive plants”

Related posts:

We all need Ecosystem Services…

Great blog by my colleague & summer intern Emily explaining Ecosystem Services and how these affect your life – happy reading:

Water Care Partnership

Since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005 there has been increasing emphasise on the importance of conserving and enhancing our ecosystem services. But what is meant by this term and how does it affect you and your community?

Whether you realise it or not, you and every single person on Earth benefits directly and indirectly from the environment and the ecosystem services it provides.

Downstream View of Old Bedford River Downstream View of the Old Bedford River. Source: Cambridgeshire ACRE

What are ecosystem services?

Ecosystems are a combination of all living (plants, animals, organisms) and non-living components (water, air, soil) in the environment around us. In turn ecosystem services are defined as “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems”. These include security, health, basic material for a good life and good social relations. The services provided by the environment fall into four categories: Provisioning, Supporting, Regulating and Cultural.

How do they affect me?

The…

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Summer placement volunteer started!

LogosHello, I am Lizzie Bannister and I am a new volunteer working for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership on a summer placement, which is a great way to get back into the environmental sector and make use of what I learnt during my degrees in conservation studies. I enjoyed working hard on Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve and Hinchingbrooke Country Park in past summers so this office-based landscape project management work is a great progression for me.

I believe in working to promote and preserve our countryside for its many uses and as a valuable resource, so am interested in the many aspects like recreation, nature and agriculture associated with the landscape. Promoting the landscape, which I will also be doing on this placement, is important to me because through education and awareness-raising, principles can be properly upheld.

My background includes horses, farming and healthcare so I have understanding of different interests and needs involved. My research I did for my degrees also demonstrate the importance of natural cover and features that can moderate some climate change impacts on nature reserves and farmland, which also support other benefits like providing larger areas of vegetation for wildlife movement. I am thrilled to continue to work for a landscape that is local to me and with local communities, which will create a healthier place for its people and wildlife that can last into the future. I hope to gain work experience and to learn more, so I can continue to help improve and maintain places for us to live in and work with. I really appreciate the washes’ extensive grasslands with its opportunities and uses like flood storage and grazing, and interesting features that catch the eye and increase the value of land conservation.

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Cattle grazing along the Washes at Mepal – image by Pete Johnstone for Cambridgeshire ACRE

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Flood water contained away from houses at Sutton Gault – image by Pete Johnstone for Cambridgeshire ACRE

Me and my Irish cob enjoy the farmland and its tracks, tree lines, copses, ditches and hedgerows where we see plenty of wildlife. One of our favourite rides is an old railway track that now serves as a byway lined by trees – see more about this in another blog! Travelling between towns and villages brings me to great views and features of the Fenland countryside and to appreciate its valuable food production role alongside the retained natural features that could be enhanced. I like to see and encourage use of these multifunctional lands and natural resourses by various people like cyclists, dog walkers and fishermen and many local businesses and activities that support the economy and society.

I actively work for the bigger picture of integrated, multi-beneficial and sustainable land uses that work with the wider landscape and enable wildlife to thrive and people to lead healthier lives, which I experience personally and understand academically.