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.

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What local residents have told us (so far…)

Over the past few months Mark, Peter and Anna and I have been out and about in the villages and parishes in or near the Ouse Washes Landscape area chatting to local residents.  We have been asking them to describe how they use the countryside around them, tell us what they know of its heritage and let us know how they value their local landscape.

Consulting with young people at Manea Gala

Consulting with young people at Manea Gala

We are very grateful for the views and opinions of those we spoke to and will be using them to shape the programme going forward. I will post a full report later in the summer but thought you might be interested in some of the ideas people have shared with us and what we have been told around the area.

‘’Everyone knows it is there but not everyone knows what it does’’ Welney resident.                                                                                                                         We have found this to be true although its existence is not always recognised in the Market Towns we surveyed and those Parishes not directly adjacent to the Rivers.

‘’I think it’s magical when it floods down the Gault.’’ Sutton resident                         ”I never really think about where I live, I just drive through it’’ 19 year old Welney resident.                                                                                                                 Attitudes towards the landscape also seem to vary depending upon the age of the resident.  We have found that older residents (50+) are more likely to understand the role of the Washes; will have been educated about it at school (if they were children in the area) and can generally talk knowledgeably about the environmental and historical heritage of the area.

’We need more points of interest marked and presented, with good information. These could be historical, environmental or businesses – for example, farm visits; links to people producing food, craft, art; cultural events; wildlife trails. We also need more circular footpaths, with information sheets.’’ Somersham resident.     This comment covers a number of commonly voiced opinions i.e. the need for more information about what is available and circular walks. I did however like this response to the question ‘’’ What would encourage you to visit the Ouse Washes area more often?                                                                                                                     Answer: ‘’A good pair of legs.’’

The surveys are still open:                                                                                             The local resident survey (for those living near to the Washes) can be found at:

http://www.smart-survey.co.uk/s/81251HOSCT

The market town survey for residents of March, Ely, Chatteris, Downham Market and St Ives is at:

http://www.smart-survey.co.uk/s/83190XOQKC

 

Meet the Team

Heritage Lottery FundMy colleagues at Cambridgeshire ACRE are carrying out a series of community consultations across the length of the Ouse Washes landscape area (see also Peter’s recent post here). In addition, we will also have a presence at stands at several local festivals over the summer period.

Sutton in the Isle Village Sign Side 1

Sutton in the Isle Village sign. Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eaglekepr/5139578331/

To begin with, you can meet the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership team this Saturday (29 June) at Sutton Gault. As part of the Sutton Festival, this Saturday a great programme is planned for Gault Day.

Although focused on local residents and families, the festival would certainly have a wider appeal, with a focus on fun activities and Fenland life. I have reliably been informed that the programme will also include: the annual Duck Race; Pooh Sticks race; a bouncy castle; face painting; kite flying. There will also be Peter Carter, the last Eel Catcher, bringing his punt gun and firing it (apparently);  beehives; displays about old Sutton and village life; plus a remote-controlled helicopter, and a number of classic british motorcycles; and performances by local musicians. For more information about the events and the rest of the activities of the Sutton Feast, see here

So, come and meet me this Saturday to have a chat about what you like about the area or what you think could be improved, fill in one of our consultation surveys, or try to catch some Ouse Washes fish!

Our next display will be at Manea at the very popular Manea Gala. This event will be held two weeks later, Saturday 13 July.

See here for a first impression of what will be on offer that day at the Manea Gala

I hope to see you soon!