Explore Braunton - The Most Biodiverse Parish in England

Velator Wetlands Education Pack

Introduction to The Velator Wetland Education Pack

In the Spring of 2004, the Velator Wetland Project was launched. It was a culmination of several years planning, partnership working, fund raising  and delivery of a specific art project in the Braunton area.

The Northern Devon Coast & Countryside Service, through its “Art in the Travelling Landscape” Project and in partnership with the site owners the Environment Agency and North Devon District Council commissioned Sans Facon to produce a series of art/viewing structures in the Velator Wetland. This was to allow public access, enjoyment and understanding of a little known wetland site on the edge of Braunton.

Hitherto, for concerns of health and safety, the site had been closed to the public and although surrounded by roads, houses and the Tarka Trail Cycleway it was little known. The initial project was to open the site, for limited public access and provide the public with a different dimension in enjoying nature conservation through art.

The original art project, has produced some interesting structures and introduced people to a different concept of understanding nature. The project has combined art and nature conservation by providing an enjoyable experience, which utilises key media, such as light, sound and movement and encourages us to use our senses, sight, hearing, touch, etc.

However, it was decided at a very early stage not develop any on-site interpretation. There was nonetheless, a need to reinforce the conservation message and to built on an enjoyable experience, in a way that people gain understanding of conservation issues in the countryside and within the Braunton area. The Velator Education Resource Pack has been developed with this in mind. The site provides ideal opportunity for study and the Education Pack should enable teachers and group leaders to reinforce the conservation message and raise people’s, especially children’s, understanding of the processes at work.

Velator Wetlands

The site at Velator Wetland presents an ideal opportunity to for people to observe the processes of nature and the successional stages that are taking place. Eventually, and without intervention, the site would gradually change over the course of time from open water to woodland (the climax vegetation state) in a process known as succession. (Water becomes, marshland, marshland becomes grassland, grassland becomes woodland)

Though only constructed in the mid 1990’s the  Velator wetland site is already exhibiting the various vegetation stages of succession from open water to woodland. It is this variety of different habitats, which makes the area so special and a home to many different species of plant and animal. To maintain a balance of these successional stages on site, it is important to manage the site and to prevent some of the natural processes of succession taking place, or vegetation stages becoming dominant. Cutting (or grazing) areas of vegetation to maintain that stage of succession can do this and this is the sort of work that the site owners, the Environment Agency, carry out.  It is important that people understand that sympathetic management of a site does include cutting, which though perhaps of detriment to the individual species, should not be seen as of detriment to the site.

The Velator Wetland is subject to the same process of nature as with any other habitat. The processes at work at Velator are also taking place elsewhere within the country and in particular in the area, the sand dune ecosystem at Braunton Burrows is subject to the same forces of change. The areas of open sand at Braunton Burrows are like the open water at Velator in terms of their successional stage. Both sites would eventually become woodland if left unmanaged. The high conservation value of the Braunton Burrows site is the range of different species and habitats present, in particular the wildflower grasslands. An understanding of conservation management at Velator, could therefore assist in people’s understanding of how we should managed more internationally important sites.

As we move towards a new age in management of Braunton Burrows, through the Biosphere initiative, an important component is that communities learn, understand and can seek opportunity that the core of the Biosphere can offer in Braunton. The art project and this vitally important Education Pack go a long way towards realising this aim.

David Edgcombe   Northern Devon Coast & Countryside Service

Please use the links on the right-hand side of the page to explore the Pack.  Included on this page (also to the right) are downloadable resources from Carlton.

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