Celebrating our internationally important bogs

NEWS FROM THE EXMOOR MOORLAND LANDSCAPE PARTNERSHIP

July 2015 sees the unique role of bogs celebrated globally and Exmoor National Park is marking the occasion with a special boggy event.

Dam-building on a bog at Exmoor National Park

The UK has 20% of the world’s blanket bog with Exmoor fortunate to have some of this rare and fascinating habitat.  This landscape is often considered to be the UK’s equivalent of Brazil’s exotic rainforest; it is a huge store of carbon dioxide and home to numerous endangered species and even a carnivorous plant, the sundew.

International celebrations occur as far afield as Estonia, Ireland and America. Exmoor will be at the heart of this year’s celebrations with its unique Bogtastic event on Wednesday 29 July, 10am – 4pm, based in and around Simonsbath.

This  ‘drop in’ event is FREE and features all sorts of activities – the Bogstacle course, stream dipping, bog safaris, the opportunity to visit one of the South West’s last remaining operational water powered sawmills and lots more all-weather fun indoors and outdoors. (Yes there are toilets, food and parking.)

“Exmoor’s bogs give us so much to celebrate – from wonderful habitat and carbon storage to the water that ultimately ends up in our taps. Bogtastic is a great opportunity stop and think about the significance of bogs for all of us!” –  said Morag Angus, project manager, Exmoor Mires Project.

Patrick Watts-Mabbott, Exmoor National Park volunteer and outreach officer commented: “Bogtastic will have something for everyone, from bats to boggy walks. Entry is free and there is a travel bursary available for community groups.’

For further information on Bogtastic please contact 01598 752509 or visit http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/ or the Facebook page www.tinyurl.com/Bogtastic15 AND LOOK OUR FOR#Bogtastic15 on Twitter.

Bogtastic is financially supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, South West Water and the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund through the Heart of Exmoor Scheme.

ENDS

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Rare butterfly returns to Exmoor’s moorland

Heath Fritillary (click to enlarge)  photo by Jason Ball

Heath Fritillary (click to enlarge) photo by Jason Ball (copyright 2015)

Butterfly Conservation has announced a boost for the population of one of the UK’s rarest butterflies following the successful introduction of the Heath Fritillary to a new site within Exmoor National Park. Butterfly Conservation and the National Trust have worked closely with the Park Authority to introduce the Heath Fritillary into newly created coppiced clearings at Hawkcombe near Porlock, Somerset.

Following extensive work by the Park Authority to create suitable coppice clearings within their woodland at Hawkcombe Wood, the right habitats have now been created and it is hoped the diminutive fritillary will thrive on the site following the introduction. The butterfly is already found in a nearby heathland combe on the National Trust’s Holincote Estate at Halse Combe, around 3km from the introduction site.

The Heath Fritillary is one of the UK’s rarest and most threatened butterflies and is restricted to just four locations in the UK – Exmoor on the Devon and Somerset border, the Tamar Valley on the Devon and Cornwall border, the Blean Woods in Kent and the South Essex Woodlands.

Historically, the butterfly has been referred to as the ‘Woodman’s Follower’ as it is linked to the traditional coppice management of woodlands, following the cycle of cutting around a wood.

Jenny Plackett, Butterfly Conservation’s Two Moors Threatened Butterflies Project Officer, said: “I am really delighted that the butterflies have bred at the new site and made it through their first year. More colonies in Exmoor will undoubtedly make the population here stronger and we are hopeful that the butterfly will spread into new sites from Hawkcombe.”

Some 37 Heath Fritillary adult butterflies were introduced into the coppice clearings in Hawkcombe last June and have bred successfully. Searches for Heath Fritillary caterpillars at Hawkcombe in April revealed at least eight had survived through the winter. Volunteers have recently recorded more than 20 adults flying in the area.

On Exmoor, the Heath Fritillary uses sunny, warm and sheltered heathland combes, where it breeds on Common Cow-wheat found growing in association with young Bilberry plants. Both of these plants are found in abundance in the newly cleared areas at Hawkcombe.

Although the butterfly is stable on Exmoor, there are just 10 colonies remaining so there is urgent need to maintain existing habitat and where possible create additional suitable habitat patches for colonisation.

Exmoor National Park have been carrying out management in Hawkcombe Wood in recent years to try to create suitable habitat for the butterfly by coppicing oak woodland where the ground flora is suitable, and widening the rides to improve connectivity between the clearings. Further work is planned over the coming years to ensure a continued supply of suitable habitat.

It is hoped that the butterfly will eventually find its way into nearby historically occupied habitat at Shillet Combe and Bagley Combe.

Butterfly Conservation is the UK charity dedicated to halting the rapid decline of butterflies and moths and protecting our environment. We run conservation programmes for more than 100 threatened species and manage over 30 nature reserves. www.butterfly-conservation.org

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Are the Cuckoos still calling?

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Are the cuckoos still calling on Exmoor? Earlier in the year we asked everyone to help by letting us know when and where you have heard a cuckoo on Exmoor through Exmoor Wild Watch 2015. Exmoor National Park is a stronghold for the Cuckoo but the population of this enchanting bird has suffered a huge UK decline.

David Rolls (Moorland Education and Outreach Officer) gives an update: “A huge thank you to everyone for all the 2015 Exmoor Wild Watch sightings. The first reported cuckoo, to date, was on Porlock hill on April 14 closely followed by other sightings at Simonsbath and Dunkery; 24 hours earlier than 2014. Incredibly, in just a week, there were over 90 sightings of cuckoos on Exmoor.

Now is another important time to tell us if you have heard or seen a Cuckoo, as they are already starting to leave Britain for their wintering grounds in Africa. Receiving dates for when the last cuckoos were seen is just as important as those dates of when they were first seen, as it starts telling us the story of how their behaviour might be changing in response to factors such as climate change or breeding success. So please help continue this work by submitting all your sightings, even if you’ve reported a cuckoo from that location before, it is all very useful data. The last departees head off in July on their epic journey back to Africa. When will the last one heard on Exmoor in 2015?”

Recording your sightings could not be easier. Simply go on line to the Wildwatch website www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/environment/wild-watch or ring the National Park Centre in Lynmouth on 01598 752509.

Wild Watch 2015 is also supported by over 25 free wildlife and surveying training events.

“Whether you are interested in butterflies, fungi or river life there is something for everyone. All the training is delivered free of charge by experts to encourage people to learn more about Exmoor’s wildlife through surveying, again just visit the Wild Watch website” highlighted David.

Exmoor Wild Watch is part of the New Ecologists project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Exmoor Trust and Exmoor National Park through the Heart of Exmoor scheme. For more details on this work please contact David Rolls on, 01398 322164.

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Moor volunteer power surpasses £300k value

Over 4,000 volunteer-days have been clocked up through an amazing level of participation with moorland projects. This is valued by the Heritage Lottery Fund as being worth over £300,000 – which brings the overall value of the Heart of Exmoor programmes to over £1.5 million invested to benefit Exmoor National Park’s moorland landscapes and communities.

Volunteers are a massive driving force in the many projects we’ve supported through the Heart of Exmoor scheme. People giving their support in kind to a wide range of projects include volunteer board members, website editors, event marshalls, artists and photographers, educators and walk leaders, professionals and practical volunteers. We’ve supported training for voluntary countryside rangers and work placement students, worked with voluntary archaeologists and history researchers, ecologists and farmers.

Jason Ball, the Heart of Exmoor scheme manager says: “A huge ‘thankyou’ goes out to the volunteers. We are immensely grateful to everyone who has donated their time, energy and expertise to the many projects we’ve had the privilege of being linked to.”

There are many ways to get involved with projects or challenges, with various organisations. Discover what’s out there through the Get Involved pages on the Exmoor National Park website.

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‘Visit Exmoor’ spring conference THIS FRIDAY!

Still places available:

 

Exmoor Society Spring Conference – Visit Exmoor

THIS FRIDAY 24 April 2015, Dulverton Town Hall.

 

“Tourism will be the theme of the Exmoor Society’s annual spring conference later this week when delegates will be considering how we balance tourism with conserving the natural environment – and also how we can promote the unique experiences the region has to offer its visitors.

 

Promote too far and too much and you can easily kill the golden goose that lays the lucrative eggs. No one wants to see our fabulous countryside being overly interpreted with in-your-face signs that tell you everything from A-to-Z without leaving any room for the excitement of self-discovery.

 

You can lead by inspiration, without leading by the nose. Hinting at the wonders and delights that may be out there is one thing – holding the visitor’s hand each and every step of the way is another. The over-promotion of an area and merits is far worse than doing no marketing at all, but there’s always a middle way.”

Extract from Western Morning News Opinion piece – 20 April 2015

 

What are your views? Come and hear from speakers including Lyndsey Swift of visit England, Malcolm Bell of Visit Cornwall and Evelyn Stacey of Exmoor Tourism and then join the debate and share your views as we tackle the issues facing Exmoor.

 

Other speakers include Jim Hardcastle of Viper Marketing and Shaun Beer from Bournemouth University looking at how we promote special experiences based on recent PhD research on Exmoor, Helen Blackman of the Exmoor Society taking a look at how tourism used to be and myself exploring what the Authority’s role is in supporting sustainable tourism.

 

Full details are available from the Exmoor Society’s website. http://www.exmoorsociety.com/Events.htm 

To book a last minute place call them on 01398 323335. (They are happy to take bookings and accept delegates on the day but please book by tomorrow afternoon if you want lunch!!!)

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Join the Team, Train to be a Ranger.

Programme Manager:

Your chance to become an Exmoor Ranger!!!

Originally posted on National Trust - North Devon Blog:

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A paid, full time placement for 2½ years with the team here at West Exmoor.

Whether you’re leaving school or looking for a change of direction, our award-winning NT Academy scheme will set you on the path to a career as a Ranger. You’ll learn on-the-job skills at West Exmoor based in the Heddon Valley near Parracombe. You’ll work with experts too; experts who’ll happily and enthusiastically pass on their know-how and expertise. Meanwhile, you’ll spend time at college (roughly ten weeks, in blocks, not all at once) gaining a recognised BTEC qualification. And because the scheme’s a healthy mix of college theory, hands-on work and technical training, you’ll find your knowledge, skills and expertise growing in no time at all.
Love of the great outdoors is a must.

We’d like you to have a keen interest in coast/countryside conservation and management and be inspired by the concept of making…

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The saviour of the North Devon Coast by Julian Gurney

Originally posted on National Trust - North Devon Blog:

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“Some of my earliest memories revolve around our fantastic and varied coastline; it feels like it is part of me, in my blood as it were. As a boy my Father would take me out in his small fishing boat, we would even sleep on it from time to time which was very exciting and quite an adventure, I remember well falling to sleep with the waves gentle lapping at the sides the boat. I learnt to swim in the sea and vividly remember my Father explaining to my younger sister and I that it was so much easier than swimming in a pool as the salt would help us float, he was right.

Later, when I was old enough to explore, my best mate Jock and I would often ride our bikes or beg lifts to get the few miles from our village on the edge of Exmoor to…

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