Landscape Conservation Action Plan for the Ouse Washes LP area

LogosFollowing on from a previous post giving an overview of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership’s 25 projects which the OWLP partnership aims to deliver between now and 2017, we can now also proudly present our Landscape Conservation Action Plan!

The Landscape Conservation Plan (or LCAP) is the Ouse Washes LP partnership’s main document that was sent to the Heritage Lottery Fund, together with other paperwork for our stage 2 grant submission, back in November 2013; in short, it contains:

  • A summary of the varied heritage of the OWLP landscape, explaining what is important and why;
  • An overview of the issues facing the landscape, its heritage and its communities, together with an outline of the opportunities to address these issues;
  • A detailed understanding of how the OWLP scheme will be addressing the needs of the landscape and communities, together with details of the projects it will carry out in order to do so and to meet the four LP programme outcomes;
  •  Details of how the OWLP scheme aims to provide lasting benefits for the landscape and its communities.

Download the LCAP here

The full Landscape Conservation Action Plan can be downloaded here (or from our Resources section):

The whole process of the LCAP could be summarised as such:

Capture

Happy reading!

 

Related posts and pages:

 

Advertisements

Nearly £1m granted to OWLP scheme!

LogosYes! It is in the bag!

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has just announced that the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme will indeed receive £905,100 of HLF funding!

Since the partnership’s stage 2 bid in November 2013, the three files of paperwork we handed in have been assessed by the HLF’s regional team. Following this, the HLF’s East of England’s Regional Committee convened late last week to make the final, very positive, decision.

The Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, Robyn Llewellynn said:

“What really impressed us about this project was the clear vision for celebrating the Ouse Washes. From working with people who live and visit the area, to developing innovative schemes to help wildlife thrive and flourish, our funding will connect the Fen stories of the past with opportunities for the future.”

Following the excellent news we have just received, we are now ready to start the partnership’s delivery phase, which will run until March 2017.

Watch this space: we will shortly get much more information out as to what is going to happen in your area and how you can get involved in our learning, access, conservation, engagement, volunteering, events and training programme.

We hope to see you soon at one of the many project activities and events we have lined up for you, to discover, protect and celebrate the unique Ouse Washes heritage.

See here the press release we sent out this week: Press Release_Ouse Washes LP_1 million from HLF (or download it from our Resources section).

Bill Blake Heritage Documentation All Rights Reserved

The Ouse Washes LP landscape; Kite Aerial Photography by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation, All Rights Reserved

Latest Lectures – on drainage and flooding – don’t miss these!

A short post, just to highlight some very interesting lectures coming up:

First of all, tomorrow evening, Wednesday 5th March, there will be a lecture in March at the library on the drainage of the Fens by Iain Smith of the Middle Level Commissioners. This is organised by the March Society. See for more details the leaflet below or the March Society’s Facebook page or check for the latest on Twitter at @MarchSociety.

New Picture (15)

Another lecture will be held in Sutton-in-the-isle on Friday 11 April – Organised by Sutton Feast – this will be delivered by Mike Petty on the 1947 Fen floods. See flyer below (Source: http://ow.ly/i/4LeJu). Check for the latest at @SuttonIsle or @Sutton_Feast.

New Picture (16)

Don’t forget, there are also the ongoing Fenland History on Friday Lectures – for information on the remaining lectures, still running each Friday morning until early May – see this previous blog post.

Related posts:

 

Ouse Flooding: then and now

LogosComing back from a meeting in Peterborough earlier this week I crossed the Ouse Washes by rail, one of my favourite train journeys through the Fens.

Railway Bridge alongside Wash Road near Welney Reserve

Railway Bridge across the Ouse Washes. Source: http://keeppushingthosepedals.blogspot.co.uk/2010_11_01_archive.html

Best view over the Ouse Washes

By the way, the railway bridge over the Ouse Washes is quite an engineering feat in itself, spanning the Ouse Washes across one of the widest parts of the washes.

The bridge, rail line and surrounds have also been very creatively captured from the air by Bill Blake, one of the OWLP’s key partners. See for instance this image (https://www.flickr.com/photos/bblakecambridge/4101910909/in/set-72157622615800075/), or see more images within Bill Blake’s Flickr Ouse Washes photo stream.

The rail line between Ely and Peterborough opened in the late 1840s. For further historic information and some good historic images of the rail crossing, see Eddy Edwards’ research page on the Ouse Washes’ crossings, at http://www.ousewashes.info/crossings/bridges-and-causeways.htm.

By all means, also look at Eddy’s excellent slide show of the historic and modern elements of the Ouse Washes’ rail crossing: http://www.ousewashes.info/slideshows/railway.htm

Flood waters in Ouse Washes are receding

Back to the title of this blog post: as local people will certainly be aware of by now, the water within the Ouse Washes has been receding lately and the causeways at Welney and Sutton Gault are now open again.

This part of the UK has been lucky – although here we have received well-above average rainfall since Christmas, it has not been as bad as in the south-west. Also, the Ouse Washes, although not far off its maximum capacity, have proven to still function as intended over 350 years ago.

P1000711P1000707

Of course, there is no reason to be complacent, as some, localised flooding has indeed occurred along the Great Ouse further upstream and it would certainly have been a lot worse had we received the same amount of water as the southwest.

Despite the fact that the water on the Ouse Washes are receding, there nevertheless still is a fair amount of water on the washes, as these pictures I took from the train make clear.

Flooding now: multiple arguments

With all the discussions lately about the causes of flooding in the nation and how to prevent this in the future, a fair number of arguments have been thrown around over the last few weeks. I am not going into all of these now, but would like to highlight a few articles which show some of the arguments made:

Capture

Proposed natural flood prevention measures. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25929644

Flooding then: same arguments?

Some people have been quick to blame others for the flooding, as we have seen over the last few weeks. Of course, there is no one single answer to these problems.

Looking at some historic flooding events in the Fens, most particularly the various flooding episodes in the Fens in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, similar arguments seem to have been used.

Below are two extracts from newspaper articles published around the time of the disastrous 1937 floods in the area: the arguments made are not much different from those made by some in the current flooding crisis (with special thanks to Mike Petty for providing me with these archival transcriptions):

Cambridge News, 23 March 1937:

The present flood conditions in the fens were raised in the House of Commons. A titanic struggle was going on between man and relentless nature. Children had been unable to go to school for months, housewives were marooned and unable to provide themselves with the necessities of life, crops had been destroyed bringing ruin to farmers and unemployment to farm workers. Half a million acres of the richest soil in the country were in daily peril during the winter. Much of the flooding had been caused to Government cuts in grants for land drainage, Arthur Greenwood declared

Cambridge News, 14 July 1937:

During recent floods the water in the Hundred Foot Washes had been held up causing great hardship to occupiers. Yet their drainage charges have greatly increased. The water is let into the Wash area through the Seven Holes Sluice at Earith. But Welmore Lake Sluice which had only been built about five years is unable to cope. The Hundred Foot should be dredged: at Littleport it was only 30 feet wide. Alternatively the water should be let through the Hermitage Sluice into the OldWestRiver and then out at Denver Sluice. But the washes were there for the express purpose of taking flood waters and grazing land was hired under those conditions. The problem is that rivers in the uplands have been cleared meaning water arrives in about a day, whereas it used to take a week.

How can you join the debate?

As part of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme, we are keen to get people together so that more people will understand better what the causes are behind the problems such as flooding episodes, and to find solutions to these where possible.

To start with, why not let us know what you think about the different arguments made above? Click on the ‘balloon’ to leave a comment; thank you.

Related posts:

HLF: come to Fens Funding session in Chatteris on 20th

LogosHeritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will be at Age UK, Chatteris on Thursday 20 February.

Find out about HFL funding options for your project ideas

You can book a session to find out about the funding we have available, our application process and discuss any project ideas you may have.

What projects does HLF fund?

HLF funds a broad range of activities that help people of all ages explore their heritage together. These can range from small scale events, exhibitions and workshops to larger projects that include training, volunteering, conservation and restoration.

Heritage means many things to different people.  Heritage Lottery funds projects from £3,000 upwards, for activities that include:

  • Exploring histories of individuals, communities, places, events and historic anniversaries
  • First World War
  • natural habitats and species
  • community archaeology
  • collections of items, archives or other materials
  • industrial, maritime and transport history
  • historic buildings and structures, including listed places of worship

How do I book a session?

To book a one to one advice session, please phone Rachel Fuller on 01223 224880.

 This event is supported by Cambridge CVS http://www.cambridgecvs.org.uk

50th Swanniversary!

LogosThe Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is celebrating its 50th Swanniversary!

This is the celebration of 50 years of successful research on the Bewick’s swans, one of the WWT’s iconic animals.

Sir Peter Scott’s great idea

The study started on 11 February 1964 when the conservationist Sir Peter Scott started painting the swans on the lake outside his window, close to the salt marshes near Slimbridge.

P1000695

Bust of Sir Peter Scott, founder of the WWT, at WWT Welney. Photograph: Cambridgeshire ACRE.

He noticed that the swans can be recognised individually as they each have a unique bill pattern of black and yellow markings. He meticulously recorded each swan that visited.

He appreciated that natural markings could be used as a powerful tool for the study of the migratory Bewick’s swans. Scott’s research has formed the basis for a very unique study which has grown into an important international population study in a collaboration that continues to this day.

As a result of the collaborative studies, the Nenetskiy National Nature Reserve in Russia, an important breeding area for the swans, was also given protected status in the 1990s.

bill-patterns

Unique bill patterns of Bewick’s Swans: original 1960s drawings as recorded by Sir Peter Scott. Source: https://www.wwt.org.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/bill-patterns.jpg

Even though more traditional tagging of the birds and – more recently – GPS tracking are also used in the study of the Bewick’s swans, the bill pattern recognition is still of utmost importance in this study – all down to Peter Scott’s original idea.

P1000696

Unique bill patterns of Bewick’s swans. Information panel at WWT Welney. Photograph: Cambridgeshire ACRE.

Swanniversary celebrations at WWT Welney Reserve

This Wednesday I was invited for a celebratory event at WWT Welney Reserve. Besides the delicious muffins in the WWT Welney café (do try them!) we were also treated with informative presentations from the WWT’s Chairman Sir George Russell; The Centre Manager at WWT Welney, Leigh Marshall; the Head of UK Waterbird Conservation, Eileen Rees; and Dafila Scott, WWT Vice President (who is Sir Peter Scott’s daughter). Dafila explored her personal memories of her childhood at Slimbridge, how she helped to paint and name dozens of swans, and her subsequent life-long interest in swan migrations and family patterns.

Recent changes at the WWT Welney Reserve

Leigh Marshall gave an overview of all the major, positive changes that the WWT Reserve has seen in just the last six years, since the new eco building was erected: two new hides, almost all footpaths having been resurfaced and made more accessible, and a dragonfly pond has been installed. In addition only in the last few years new land has been acquired to the east of the reserve centre: Lady Fen and Bank Farm, together accounting for c 200 ha of new wetland.

Lady%20Fen%20early%20morning%20LM%20(7)

Lady Fen to the east of WWT Wetland reserve centre, hugely important for swans and wader birds. Source: http://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/welney/dont-miss/lady-fen-and-bank-farm/

Currently, works are taking place to convert the adjacent 100 ha of former farmland into wetland; a new hide is also planned. Although still very much developing, these new wetlands have already proven to be vital for such rare wader species as the Black-tailed gotwit of which 45 of the 50 UK breeding pairs breed at the Welney Washes [More about this great story in a separate post to come].

The future of the Bewick’s swans

Bewick’ swans numbers have gradually grown until they peaked in 1995 around 30,000 internationally. since then, there has been a rapid decline in numbers: currently there are only c18,000 Bewick’s swans left in the world.

In order to counteract this decline, international efforts have been stepped up: the last few years saw, for instance, the production of an international Bewick’s swan Action Plan which will be implemented over the next few years. This Action Plan has been drawn up with conservation colleague in numerous countries, including The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Russia, and was adopted by the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement in 2012. It is hoped that, through combined efforts, the population will reach healthy numbers again in the future: the aim is to halt the decline and maintain the population at 23,000 birds or above.

Changing weather patterns: lower numbers of Bewick’s swans at Welney

One of the changes that have been affecting the Bewick’s swans is the rapidly altering weather pattern we have been experiencing lately. With milder winters, fewer birds migrate all the way to the UK to overwinter, from their breeding grounds in Siberia.

As a result, this winter the lowest number of Bewick’s swans have been recorded at Slimbridge since 1965. At the Ouse Washes, where most of the UK Bewick’s swans congregate in the winter, this year has also seen a record-low number of c1,000 only whereas in a ‘normal’ year c5,000 turn up.

As a result of the internationally co-ordinated research we know that this winter many birds did not migrate any further than Germany: also The Netherlands, usually the last ‘stop’ before Bewick’s swans move on to the UK have seen record low numbers: whereas the Netherlands usually is host to 70% of the total Northwest European population they have only counted 4,800 Bewick’s swans this winter, down from the usual c13,000.

All of this may not be as bad as it seems: as the birds do not have to fly as much and do not experience harsh weather this winter, the birds are likely to remain stronger and thus, when back in Siberia in their breeding grounds, may actually turn out an above-average numbers of young. We will find out next year…

Further information

For further information about the Swanniversary, also see the following links:

 Related posts:

Funding for Local Farmers: Apply Now

Logos

DEFRA recently announced the launch of a third round of the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS), the government grant scheme for farming and forestry businesses.

FFIS scheme: Helping Farming and Forestry become more resilient

The FFIS scheme is administered through the RDPE (Rural Development Programme for England) network, to help farming, forestry and horticultural businesses to become more efficient at using resources: the scheme aims to help businesses to become more profitable, competitive and resilient, whilst reducing the impact of farming on the environment.

CaptureOver the previous two FFIS rounds DEFRA awarded grants totalling almost £19m to over 2200 applicants.

Through the third round DEFRA expects to award grants in excess of £10m.

Who can apply?

Farmers, foresters, contractors, woodland owners and horticulturalists across England are eligible to apply, for grants of up to £35,000

The Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme funds projects that:

  • save energy and reduce carbon emissions;
  • reduce dependence on artificial fertilizers through better use of manures;
  • improve soil quality;
  • improve animal health and welfare;
  • save and recycle water; and
  • promote woodland management by processing timber more efficiently.

How to apply?

The third round of the FFIS scheme will close on Friday 4 April 2014. Unlike previous rounds, DEFRA will start processing applications as soon as they arrive. Therefore you are strongly advised to apply as soon as you can.

For more information about the FFIS scheme and to download the guidance and an application form visit this site.

You can also download the FFIS leaflet here: Final PDF Flyer

For information about other DEFRA funding opportunities, look here