Hello from Abby!

LogosHaving been in post for a whole 3 days now a “Hello” from me is now long overdue! I am thrilled to be working as Countryside Engagement Officer for the Ouse Washes as part of this lottery funded landscape initiative and will be blogging regularly from now on – do feel free to get in touch with positive (and negative!) thoughts and opinions on my blog…

My most relevant work experience relates to my time as Community and Biodiversity Project Officer in the Brecks Natural Area where I was based in Thetford, Norfolk where I still live with my family (two teenage girls of great skill and wonder), husband (see before) and changing array of time consuming pets!  The Brecks echoes the Ouse Washes in its lack of national landscape designation (both a blessing and a curse depending on your role in this living breathing landscape) which can mean that it’s diversity and appeal can go underappreciated.  In the Brecks we had pine – lines whilst the Washes is all about the water, I hope you like the logo as much as I do?

I have lived and worked in London, Hull, Dorset, Hertfordshire, the Isles of Scilly (30 miles off Cornwall and never referred to as the Scilly Isles BTW), Greece and India so am used to “not being from around here” though I am keen to learn more about the area and to understand the needs, interests and any sore points as much as possible.

Within the team my main responsibilities revolve around communications, events and the media with the fantastic ‘washes wide’ Festival Fortnight in preparation for July/ August 2015.  Look out for Mark and myself at local events and do get in touch if you have got the creative bug (and want to donate some of your precious time?) or have any ideas about how we can best communicate about upcoming events (online? newspaper? posters? loudhailers?), input always welcome…that’s all for now but here is a photo of me to aid my identification!ASV intro photo

Advertisements

Other Landscape Partnership schemes in East Anglia

Heritage Lottery Fund

Including the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP), there are currently four Landscape Partnership schemes in the East of England. They are:

  • Managing a Masterpiece (Stour Valley; completed : summer 2013)
  • Touching the Tide (Suffolk Coast; started delivery phase this spring)
  • Breaking New Ground (The Brecks; in development phase)
  • Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership

As there are synergies with what the OWLP scheme is trying to achieve, I thought it would be interesting to show what else is happening in the region. Over the last few months the central OWLP team has also been in regular contact with staff at the Breaking New Ground and Touching the Tide schemes, who have been very helpful with information exchange.

Each of the landscape Partnerships are very different in the type of landscapes it focuses on, ranging from the coastal landscape of the Touching the Tide, the dry scrubland of the Brecks, to the flood plain and Fenlands of the Ouse Washes, area. The Managing a Masterpiece manages the landscape as fabulously painted by John Constable who painted the old building and waterways of this landscapes. All have had a different story to tell; with the funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund each of the landscapes are brought back to life, with the involvement and help of the local communities and business.

Map of the existing Landscape Partnership schemes within East Anglia:

Map of existing Landscape Partnership in East Anglia

Map of existing Landscape Partnership in East Anglia

The Brecks

Breaking New Ground covers 1000 square kilometres in the Brecks, in the heart of East Anglia.

The climate here is semi-continental, which means that the weather is colder than the UK average during winter and hotter in summer. The Brecks can also experience extreme changes in temperature throughout the year with the possibility of frost during almost any month, which in conjunction with the low rainfall in East Anglia makes it the driest part of the UK.

The Brecks have nutrient poor soil however it is a good habitat for rabbits and there are ancient Pingos, formed at the end of the last Ice Age; these are not common across the UK as most have been built on or removed. The resulting Pingo ponds are home to some unique species of wildlife, many of which are rare and some of the beetles have survived here since the last Ice Age.

Brecks Landscape Source: www.brecks.org

Brecks Landscape Source: http://www.brecks.org

In the 1660s, the area experienced huge sandstorms what with the area being largely made up of sandy soils. As a result, sand dunes were formed on Lakenheath Warren in the 1660s. These were spread over a thousand acres and the sand was blown as far as Santon Downham and partially buried villages and blocked the Little Ouse River. Extensive planting of trees in the area has stopped sandstorms occurring. The last mobile sand dune system can be seen at Wangford Warren Nature Reserve.

The Brecks has the potential to support over 300 tourist-related business, however it is one of East Anglia’s hidden gems: it is obscured by trees, resulting in rail and car travellers passing by, generally not knowing what lies behind the line of trees en route to more well-know areas such as the Norfolk Coast and the Broads. The area behind the trees, nevertheless, is a world of forest adventure; miles of tracks and paths forming a great attraction with an amazing fun world of history for everyone to get involved in.

In late July 2013 The Brecks Partnership and Greater Anglia put an image of The Brecks on the side of a train travelling between Cambridge and Norwich, as this is the line which passes through the Brecks. The aim was to promote the area to a wider audience and the train will be running until the end of July 2014 promoting the Brecks along the way.

Train with the The Brecks logo  Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sinkplunger/9730654292/

Train with the The Brecks logo. Would this also be an idea for Ouse Washes LP area, another hidden gem in the region – what do you think?
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sinkplunger/9730654292/

 

Touching the Tide

The Touching the Tide Landscape Partnership scheme is within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB area and is situated along the Suffolk Coast between Covehithe and Felixstowe.

The development phase was completed in November 2012 and funding was given to go forward with the delivery phase. The Touching the Tide Landscape Partnership has received £900k to support the 3 year project which started in spring 2013 and is due to end in spring 2016.

The scheme intents to invest in skills, businesses and the environment. The project money will be used to restore and conserve heritage assets which make the coast special, for example the Martello Towers as well as the shingle beaches which contribute to the sense of wildness that people value in the character of the landscape. The funding will also be used to work with local communities to inspire them to share stories of the area’s history to younger members of the community, as well as helping to conserve the local heritage by working with art projects and archaeological digs. All these projects encourage the local community to work together and to feel proud of their heritage. By the end of the 3 year project the aim is to have made a real difference to people’s understanding of this very dynamic coastline, so they can help in shaping its future.

Managing a Masterpiece

The Managing a Masterpiece Landscape Partnership scheme focused on the Stour Valley; it started in 2010 and ended in summer 2013. Their Vision is for a landscape cared for and celebrated by the local community, having been provided with knowledge, skills and opportunities needed to manage and enjoy it. The area has inspired generations of artists such as John Constable because of it natural beauty and historic structures, riverside trees, rich heritage of meadows and the field boundaries.

managing a masterpiece

The objectives for Managing a Masterpiece were:

  • Understanding the historic evolution of the landscape and the way traditional land management has shaped it;
  • Conserving or restoring the manmade and natural features that create the historic character of the landscape;
  • Celebrating the cultural associations and activities of the landscape area;
  • Encouraging more people to access, learn about, become involved in and make decisions about their landscape heritage;
  • Improving understanding of local craft and other skills by providing training opportunities.

There were 7 overarching projects (each with further projects within) which formed the Managing a Masterpiece Landscape Partnership scheme, all of which explored different parts of the landscape and which focused on:  Landscape lessons; Historic Landscape Study; Building History; Slimy Posts and Brickwork; Hidden History; Stripping Back the Layers; and Medieval Masterpieces. Each of the projects were carried out by local communities: the more they contributed the more they appreciated its value and wanted to continue their involvement with the local heritage after funding stopped.

During the years of the Landscape Partnership over 3,500 volunteer working days were completed throughout all of the projects, half of which were carried out during several archaeological projects.

Landscape of Managing a Masterpieces Source; http://www.managingamasterpiece.org/

Landscape of Managing a Masterpieces Source; http://www.managingamasterpiece.org/

 

Legacy of the Landscape Partnership schemes in the region

All of the above Landscape Partnerships schemes are aimed at involving people in their local heritage and landscape and providing access to the area so that more people are able to enjoy the environment in which they live, while at the same time giving the project volunteers the opportunity to learn new skills. The Landscape Partnership schemes do not finish once the funding stops as it is hoped that after 3 years of funding people are more knowledgeable and inspired about the area and will continue to look after the environment in which they live.

At the Ouse Washes Conference at the beginning of September there were some inspiring comments showing that people want to continue the project work after the end of the 3 years of HLF support. One person commented “My enthusiasm has grown after today. Think about branding of the scheme and of a sustainable legacy” with another saying, “Overall an exciting project- Wish it was longer than 3 years”. The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme certainly aims to get more people interested, excited and proud of their local heritage and support people in looking after the Ouse Washes into the future once the 3 year project is finished.

Related articles

Getting the Ouse Washes into the world of social media

Heritage Lottery FundThe Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP) scheme wishes to spread its information to more people by using a wide range of social media and other online media; however each of the online media has its pros and cons. I did some research to find out what other Landscape Partnerships have been doing at this front, to get some information and inspiration.

Currently the Ouse Washes LP scheme is using this blog and Twitter; these are also linked so that when adding a blog it sends a direct link onto our Twitter page and vice versa, thereby increasing our online activity and visibility. We will also have our own website, once the HLF gives us the ‘green light’ (and money) for the delivery phase, i.e., in spring 2014.

Online presence of other LP schemes

Looking at the online presence of all 66 current Landscape Partnership schemes (including the 13 which – like ourselves – are in the development phase; and those schemes which have already ended), it is clear that the vast majority of the schemes have a website, about half have a Twitter account, but only six other schemes have a blog.

Other online media options

However, there are a few more options which are also being exploited by some other schemes: these include Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Vimeo, all of which have different way of getting information out to the public. The potential value of YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Vimeo is in getting more people engaged with the OWLP scheme and increasing the awareness of the landscape and its heritage to a wider audience.

facebookHaving a Facebook page for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme would also have potential. However, there are fewer options to directly link its contents with Twitter and the blog. There are some other Landscape Partnership schemes which make use of have Facebook including the Up on the Downs Landscape Partnership and the Tag Landscape Partnership, but they often get few likes (‘followers’), much fewer followers than schemes seem to get through Twitter. So the Ouse Washes could perhaps start a Facebook page once the scheme is in its delivery phase, but it will take some time to gain a large number of likes through this online medium.

New Picture (3)vimeo YouTube and Vimeo are both video sharing websites; these two platforms could help to inform the community about different projects and how they are developing. One Landscape Partnership scheme which has recently finished is the Neroche Scheme which has made videos throughout their project and by the end of the scheme – after 5 years – they used the video to show how the journey unfolded; see here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkqsDUqw-Wk).youtube

When creating such videos there clearly needs to be a continued use of this throughout the whole of the project in order to tell the whole story; for instance, this method can be used as a diary to show how events and projects are developing. The two websites which can be used as an option for uploading videos are YouTube which have a wider number of people using it, or Vimeo which has better quality videos but a much smaller audience.

flikFlickr is a photo sharing website which is good way to show how the area changes over time through the seasons, the conservation activities and community involvement all clearly captured in images. This is being done quite nicely, for instance, by the Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme, managed by the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust, see http://www.flickr.com/photos/ccght.

What do you think we should do?

Each new online medium of course takes time to keep up; therefore we would like to make sure it is best ‘value for money’. For each of the above platforms we would like to be able to manage them and keep them up to date, and getting you involved in different ways. Each new online medium employed by the OWLP scheme will certainly also all be linked to the main website for the Ouse Washes once we can start our delivery.

We would like to have your option on what you think would be the best way for us for those media that we have not yet gone for, including Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr. Please leave suggestions for how you think we can best expand our online presence!

New opportunities with HLF

Heritage Lottery FundThe Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) recently announced some changes to its schemes, starting April 2013.

There are several interesting developments worth pointing out.

First of all, it is clear that the Landscape Partnership programme continues to receive a considerable amount of the available HLF money; the HLF has also announced that this scheme will run for at least another five years. Some changes have, however, been made to the Landscape Partnership scheme, making the process for new schemes simpler and more flexible; the main changes are summarised as such on HLF’s news page:

“The application process has been simplified with new guidance materials available online. Greater flexibility has been built into the programme and awards will now start at £100,000 (previously £250,000) with the upper limit rising from £2m to £3m. The recommended scheme area size will continue to be between 20km² and 200km² but flexibility has been introduced to allow partnerships to cover a greater area depending on the scale and nature of the landscape.”

If you are interested to start your own Landscape Partnership scheme, be aware that the deadline for first-round applications is 31 May 2013 for decisions in October 2013. For an application pack with all of the new guidance documents, go to the HLF’s Landscape Partnership page.

_9_74_1

Fen Drayton landscape_image by Pete Johnstone for Cambridgeshire ACRE

Secondly, the HLF has split the previous ‘Your Heritage’ programme into two new programmes, ‘Our Heritage’ for grants between £10,000 and £100,000, and ‘Sharing Heritage’, for grants between £3,000 and £10,000.

The latter is an interesting scheme: not only is this a ‘rolling programme’, meaning that there is no set deadline in the year and you can apply at any time, the decision-making process is also very short, with a maximum of 8 weeks only. The application form is also not complicated. More important perhaps is that for the ‘Sharing Heritage’ scheme no cash match funding needs to be found, something which could present insurmountable difficulties for community groups with some of the other HLF programmes. The HLF commits £3 million each year to the ‘Sharing Heritage’ programme, helping people across the UK explore, conserve and share all aspects of the history and character of their local area.

This means that all sorts of community groups could apply for small grants up to 10K. Throughout the delivery phase of the Ouse Washes LP we will encourage community groups to apply for these and similar grant schemes (such as the ‘Young Roots’ programme). Through active community engagement with the landscape by adding on related projects, we could ensure a legacy for the landscape beyond the four years of the Ouse Washes LP scheme,  which is central to what we are trying to achieve (see our vision for more on this).

See here for an overview of all of HLF’s schemes, all with updated guidance. Look here for a quick overview of the main differences between the different programmes.

Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership successful in first stage bid to HLF

Cambridgeshire ACRE has received an earmarked first-round pass of £995,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through its Landscape Partnership (LP) programme for the Ouse Washes area, it was announced today. The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership aims to work with a wide range of partners to improve community interaction and participation to maintain the areas inherent beauty, natural and built heritage assets and international importance so that it is safeguarded for the future.

Development funding of £90,500 is included in this amount to help Cambridgeshire ACRE progress their plans to apply for the full grant at a later date.

The Landscape Partnership will undertake conservation work on the assets of the area; tell the story of the history of the landscape and how it has been managed; encourage local people to get involved in managing the area today; encourage visitors and local people to learn about and appreciate the landscape; and improve the skills of local people by providing volunteering opportunities and work placements.

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area stretches 48.5km between Fen Drayton Lakes and Downham Market. The main features include the Old and the New Bedford Rivers, and the area of wet grassland 20 miles (32 km) long between them. This washland is internationally important for the large populations of birds which feed on it in winter. The area includes the well-established Welney and Ouse Fen nature reserves, and newer reserves such as Fen Drayton Lakes. The rural communities within the area have a rich archaeological and industrial heritage. The history associated with the land drainage: riots, disputes, disasters and engineering successes are unique to this area.

Kirsten Bennett from Cambridgeshire ACRE said:

We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. The Ouse Washes may not be ‘pretty’ in a picture-postcard sense but they have a unique charm of their own. Their cultural and built heritage needs to be celebrated and understood, both by those who live and work here and those who come to visit the area. This funding will allow us to work with local people and organisations to make this happen. As the Rural Community Council for Cambridgeshire, we feel privileged to be leading the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership.

Explaining the importance of HLF’s support, Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said:

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership is designed to help protect and celebrate a wonderful and distinctive part of East Anglia. This landscape is very much shaped by water flow – sometimes not enough and at the moment a little too much! With the Heritage Lottery Fund’s initial support the scheme can start developing work to promote the area as a tourist destination whilst also encouraging local communities to learn more about its history and how best to conserve and manage it for the future.

Why the Ouse Washes?

We are just starting to develop the first round Landscape Partnership (LP) application building on the excellent work done by partners to make the Expression of Interest successful. As the partnership evolves, over the next weeks, it is important to remember why this area of Fenland has been chosen to centre a LP on. There are many reasons, one being it has so much to offer, and much of this rich, internationally important heritage is currently unknown and unexplored. 

This is a partnership approach and we have been working to raising awareness and gain support amongst key partners such as local authorities, parish councils and community/voluntary groups in the surrounding market towns and villages. It is hoped that LP will support the community stewardship of local assets such as historic places of worship, nature reserves, water resources and footpaths. We would want to leave a legacy of community engagement, with key partners and communities working together to co-produce effective conservation management, green space access, climate change mitigation and flood resilience schemes. This will protect and enhance the enjoyment and understand of the Ouse Washes in the future.

We would really like to hear from you – particularly your innovative project ideas that fit the overall aims of this LP. The success of the programme will be based around a portfolio of smaller projects, which together will provide long-term social, economic and environmental benefits for this rural area.

Welcome

Welcome to the new blog for the Ouse Washes: Gateway to the Fens Landscape Partnership Scheme.

We’ve set this blog up so that anyone associated with or interested in the Scheme can keep up to date with its progress as we develop it from a raw idea into a fully thought-out application ready for submission to the Heritage Lottery Fund in February 2012.

We hope you will take the opportunity to visit the other pages on this site which will tell you about why we think the Ouse Washes deserve to be conserved, celebrated and made more accessible both to people who live locally and visitors to the area.

If you have any thoughts on this site or on the Landscape Partnership Scheme itself then please feel free to reply or comment on posts. We’d be delighted to hear from you and will endeavour to use feedback provided to improve this site or to feed into our application development work.