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.

DSC_4849

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.

DSCN0086

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:

 

 

DSC_4844

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

 

DSC_4846

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_4850

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

DSC_4854

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

DSCN0101

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

 

DSC_4855

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

DSC_4861

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

DSC_4864

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

DSCN0116

Peter Doktor, Environment Agency. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

_MG_1665

Round table discussions. Image: Bill Blake Heritage Documentation.

_MG_1688

Round table discussions. Image: Bill Blake Heritage Documentation.

DSC_4872

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

DSC_4880

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

DSC_4885

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

DSC_4898

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

DSC_4901

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

DSC_4911

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

DSCN0109

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

P1000974

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

DSCN0079

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

DSCN0106

Various displays in Corn Exchange. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

DSCN0078

ACE’s display. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

DSCN0072

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

DSCN0065

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

DSCN0066

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

DSCN0061

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

DSCN0068

Green Light Trust’s display. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

DSCN0080

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

Capture

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

 

Advertisements

Conservation, Farming, Flooding: Our Natural Landscape?

Logos

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.

Tales of Washes, Wildfowl and Water

Volunteers needed

One of the projects of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership is well underway and very keen to recruit more young volunteers to help make a short, animated film all about the creation of the Ouse Washes.

The details of who is eligible and how to get involved:Rosmini animation project A5flier jpeg

The film will be all about the archaeology, landscape heritage, natural heritage and the people who created the landscape and worked in the washes; it will lead those involved to explore the landscape heritage and how the Ouse Washes were created.

The Project

logos

The project is being run by the Fens Museum Partnership, in conjunction with a local volunteer community group linked to the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech. The volunteers involved in the project will shape the story and direction of the film, select the topics and then put the film together, thereby gaining a great sense of ownership over the project and final product.

Once the Ouse Washes Partnership scheme has completed its work, this film will continue to be used by various organisations, for example schools, youth clubs, libraries, local history groups and community groups, providing a concise story of the Ouse Washes to many more people and allowing them to learn about its heritage.

We will also promote the film at many of our partnership events, such as the Festival Fortnight during July 2015 and 2016, and other occasions when we showcase the Ouse Washes scheme to the public.

Previous films from the Fens Museum Partnership

To give you an idea of the wonderful films that are put together using this technique, follow this link to see some films that are part of a series of short, stop-frame animation Fenland Storiesfilms entitled Fenland Stories previously produced by The Fens Museum Partnership.

Once again, on this project, the film will be produced as a packaged DVD, allowing it to be widely distributed to the scheme partners, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other organisations. It will also be uploaded to the scheme’s website, social media and our YouTube channel.

How to Get Involved

If you are interested in getting involved in the project, please get in touch with Ruth Farnan at the Fens Museum Partnership directly on:

  • 07881 924374, or
  • ruth.farnan@Norfolk.gov.uk

Or you can contact the central team for the partnership using the details on our contact page.

Get into Mosaic-making this Bank Holiday Monday!

logosThe Ouse Washes Community Murals Project starts at Mepal on Bank Holiday Monday! Mepal is the first of the three places in our special, but little-known, area of East Anglia which stretches from Downham Market to St Ives that will have outdoor murals made by you and others in the communities from across the landscape! For free! You can freely come to these crafty workshops whenever and for however long you want all the week until end of Friday 29th August, and the workshop is held for one more day on the following Monday the 1st September. Anyone can have a go regardless of age and ability at creating these wonderful outdoors art features.

Carolyn Ash and a great outdoor murals - sourced from Ely Standard 24 - http://www.elystandard.co.uk/what-s-on/arts/learn_how_to_put_together_a_mosaic_at_unique_workshop_1_3734029?usurv=skip

Carolyn Ash and a great outdoor murals – sourced from Ely Standard 24

Denver and Welney are the other two places and workshops will be held at these places for their murals later in September then October. It was all made possible by a Heritage Lottery Grant successfully applied to by ADeC under the Ouse Washes: The Heart of the Fens Landscape Partnership Scheme. The murals were commissioned to become a permanent and pretty landscape feature the local people can be proud of because of their involvement in the workshops of the project. The scheme was set up to raise awareness and encourage greater local engagement with the landscape of the Ouse Washes to celebrate and highlight it and its value. Your ideas are also needed – we will give you postcards at the three locations where you can write down what makes the landscape special to you for the designs.

Carolyn Ash with a fabulous example - sourced by Jono Jarvis

Carolyn Ash with a fabulous example – sourced by Jono Jarvis

It will be led by talented artist Carolyn Ash, who will guide you through all aspects of this popular activity – it is the fun, creative and original thing to do for the whole family and to do with friends! As promoted in the Ely Standard24, on the Thursday and Friday between 10am-3.30pm, Carolyn will transform the resulting mosaic into a large outdoor mural.

Related posts

A Walk On The Wash Side

We (Myself, Jono and Abby) took ourselves out for a few hours to see (and lunch at!) a major reserve, WWT Welney Reserve, that is within the OWLP area and on the Ouse Washes to experience part of what we are promoting…

We were not disappointed! We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It is a direct experience on the washes itself that is only possible during the summer because in the winter it is flooded and flocked with birds.

LogosWe hadn’t even got out of the car park – with its good samples of their wetland wilderness – before we coincidently bumped into and chatted to Carolyn Ash, who is one of the artists working on the Ouse Community Murals Project as part of the OWLP scheme, and Carolyn was also with a colleague from Arts Development in East Cambridgeshire which is a key partner in the Partnership. We were also lucky to see a beautiful example of Carolyn’s large damselfly mural. After crossing a sustainably-made bridge and pond, we entered the airy building that afforded fantastic views of the landscape beyond and met a few of the friendly WWT staff team.

Carolyn Ash is working on the Ouse Community Murals Project

Carolyn Ash is working on the Ouse Community Murals Project

As we crossed the large foot-bridge we saw the introductory interpretation for children. There were sizable hides – one barer and more serious and the other family-friendly and informative with fun displays and colourful artwork. The landscape was filled with bodies of water, wildflower and greenery, and featured various species of wading birds and cattle in the distance. The lake itself had interesting banks, and trees dotted the scenery, so the diversity on the land under the large Fenland sky is immense.

As the Welney website says: “Immerse yourself in pathways of wildflowers at the heart of the washes, leaving the stresses of daily life behind. We followed the “Summer walk” route.

As the Welney website says: “Immerse yourself in pathways of wildflowers at the heart of the washes, leaving the stresses of daily life behind.
We followed the “Summer walk” route. Source:  https://ousewasheslps.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/wwtwelneymap.pdf

 

You can download a pdf copy of the Welney map here: WWTWelneyMap

We ventured out on the tracks – the wilderness of medium to tall vegetation and trees surrounded us for the first part. We came across several features of interest – a few tiny, combat-like hides, a vegetation-rich dragonfly pond area (with a table and seating), a popular and well-equipped pond dipping platform, a bird-ringing net structure and sticks with woven ends holding useful information.

It was Charlock!

Wildflowers such as Charlock and Purple Loosestrife were spotted, and the verge was varied into patches of Nettles and Reed. The path soon became a grassy drove populated with Silverweed and an occasional Forget-Me-Not and continued. Great blocks of different species like Reeds dominated our scenery, which was peppered with other species like Water Mint and Meadow Sweet. Butterflies like Gatekeeper

Sunbathing on a leaf

Gatekeeper sunbathing on a leaf

and Red Admiral fluttered past and rested, a possible grass snake slithered past, evidence of mammal browsing persisted and a dragonfly couple mated as we walked and talked.

Love in the air!

Love in the air!

The Summer Walk we took wiggled onto dense, enclosing surroundings that consisted of Reeds, some Sedge and a patch of scrub where a bench is, and the immediate landscape variegated into tall vegetation, water and trees. We reached the loop at the end of the walk, saw the wilderness beyond and around then strolled back as we discussed our work and other things, we took the opportunity to sit in a hide and then on our return to the centre, browsed in the shop which held a wide range of wildlife-related merchandise.

We reluctantly left the centre glorying under a hot sun, having seen a handful of other visitors whilst we were there, and returned to the office more knowledgeable and enthused about our work.

Goodbye lovely wildflowers

Goodbye lovely wildflowers

Landscape Character Assessment for the Ouse Washes LP landscape

LogosLast year, as part of a series of works we commissioned during the development of the OWLP scheme, Sheils Flynn wrote an excellent Landscape Character Assessment for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area.

The report that came from this has been a prime source of information for the partnership to get a better grip on the landscape character, its historic development, significance and modern workings. It was certainly not an easy job for our consultants as the landscape changes are often very subtle; Sheils Flynn nevertheless have done an excellent job teasing out the area’s specifics and distinct elements and writing this up in very accessible prose. We would now like to share this important work with you in the hope that you will also find this information as captivating as I do.

The structure of the report is set out below:

Capture

The main sections of Sheils Flynn’s Landscape Character Assessment report

This report gives a very detailed overview of the significant prehistoric and historic developments and sites in the area, before it moves on to a description of significant biodiversity, water management and heritage elements in the landscape – these sections would be of use to local heritage groups or anyone trying to find out more about how this landscape developed and what elements within the natural and historic environment are of prime significance.

Capture 2

Cross section through the Ouse Washes, as published in Sheils Flynn’s Landscape Character Assessment, p. 36

Following this, an overview of landscape management recommendations are given – this section would be of particular use to people trying to understand the landscape value of certain parts of the OWLP landscape; for instance local communities that may be opposing certain types of development in their area may find rich information here to draw from.

The main body of the Landscape Character Assessment is an overview of the nine Landscape Character Areas, with a detailed description for each area, showing its:

  • distinctive landscape characteristics;
  • a description of the landscape character;
  • an understanding of what’s important and why;
  • a description of landscape sensitivity.
Capture 4

The nine identified distinct Landscape Character Areas, in Sheils Flynn’s Landscape Character Assessment, p. 52.

The report is richly illustrated with photographs and line drawings, and with several interesting case studies woven in.

Capture 5 Capture 6 Capture 7

Do you want your own copy? 

Please find a downloadable version in our Resources section, or download it here (note: this may take some time, 6MB, PDF): Ouse Washes LP – Landscape Character Assessment [low res]

 

Related posts:

What is Community KAP?

Logos– This is a guest post by Bill Blake, one of the key partners in the OWLP partnership ; the original version was published at http://billboyheritagesurvey.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/what-is-community-kap/

What is Community KAP?

This is an activity, open to all ages and abilities (subject to appropriate supervision) that is relaxing, fun and places one in the landscape in a unique way.

What is it? KAP stands for Kite Aerial Photography and was invented in the 19th cent by Artur Batut in France, it has caught on in the modern age as we have cheap digital cameras, we are no longer at the mercy of the  plate negative!

The benefit of the method is 2 fold, first the capture of images of the landscape from a new viewpoint, second the flying of kites is good way to spend some time outdoors learning the ways of the wind. Most of the time we tend not to raise our eyes to the sky, most of what concerns our lives is firmly earthbound.  Choosing to look at where we live from the sky can be as easy as browsing Google Earth but what we see there gets fuzzy and indistinct when we look closely at the details of the landscape, recording from the much lower viewpoint a kite offers us a much closer to how we experience the world, just different enough to be new and involving.

KAP groupHow is this a community activity? The best outcomes are from the combined efforts of teamwork: a kite flier and a photographer. As a group activity a variety of outcomes are possible: with patience and a good number of photos an aerial panorama is possible by building up a montage of images, large scale photo-maps are  also made by fitting a ‘carpet’ of images together. By flying several kites together (at a safe distance apart!) surprisingly rich records of the locale are achieved.

What’s special about kite aerial pictures? Simply put it’s the resolution. At the height of the kite patterns and textures are uniquely visible.

Aldreth Causeway High BridgeIs it safe? Because every site has different hazards KAP needs careful planning. This is where I come in: I have been doing this professionally for 5 years now and a risk assessment is made for each location prior to agreeing a safe method of working.  The risks are small but real, kites can give you line burn, make you run backwards into things and end up tangled in trees or worse. Depending on  group ability and desired outcome location and timing are chosen carefully to manage risk. Compared to playing in a football match flying a kite is safe!

Treeplanting_01

BMX1

Backs of Houses

Why is this part of Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership? The opportunity to provide the project with arresting images of the landscape acquired by community groups is valuable: to see the landscape from above is revealing, to be part of the process is rewarding. As the project develops many images of habitat, land-use, art projects and event records, are needed to illustrate the landscape on sign-age, site interpretation and web pages.

Drying Washes PymoorCommunity KAP is a project funded by OWLP and is now live, so let’s get started, I’m available for demonstration, talks, risk assessment and project planning for your group!

 

Related OWLP posts: