The Natural Flood Management (NFM) interventions in the Acland Catchment have been log dams and uniquely designed hedgerows. These strategies work with environmental and natural processes, through an ecosystem based approach, to increase flood resilience of communities downstream.
Hedgerows act as a physical land barrier to runoff accumulation, featuring small baffles and overflow pipes. Log dams however act as physical instream barriers to high river flows, causing flood waters to leave the channel and breach on to the floodplain. When these events occur waters are slowed down and therefore have the opportunity to infiltrate into the floodplain. Both interventions also improve water quality; as runoff is slowed and sediment in the water column is able to be deposited.
The project was funded by the Environment Agency, Natural England and Devon County Council”
The Biosphere recently teamed up with Beaford Arts to support Devon Libraries for two events called Nature Tales, which is part of Libraries Unlimited's Unlimited Potential project.
The project, made possible by funding from Arts Council England, enabled the two events to take place. Held at Torrington and South Molton Libraries, the events were aimed at pre-school families and linked libraries with the great outdoors.
The events began at the library with a mix of entertainment, which included stories, songs and puppets. The children then went out into the Biosphere to follow a story walk, look for clues and experience the beautiful landscape. The children were also able to look closely at a selection of plants and insects under a microscope and using magnifying bug viewers.
Finally, they all returned to the library for snacks, natural crafts and a free goody bag.
The Biosphere Team recently spent a busy day coppicing on the Tarka Trail with members of local partner organisations, conservationists and dedicated volunteers.
This year we were joined by colleagues Devon Wildlife Trust, Westcountry Rivers Trust, The Biosphere Foundation, National Trust, Northam Burrows Country Park and the North Devon AONB to name a few. As a thank you for all their hard work a festive BBQ and hot drinks were provided.
The photo on the left is the 'before' shot. You can clearly see that this area was in need of coppicing. The many leaves covering the Trail makes the surface slippery and can really damage the tarmac by staying permanently wet.
Coppicing is highly effective way of managing woodlands and has greatly influenced our British woodlands. The reasons we coppice are much more than just preserving the surface of the Trail for cyclists and walkers. The increased light reaching the embankments will allow wild flowers and wildlife to thrive.
This photo below is of the area that was coppiced in 2016 and it really shows how much clearer the surface is.
This summer, the project achieved an exciting milestone. Thanks to our expert advisors, Evelyn Moorkens and Ian Killeen from Ireland, we were able to confirm live juvenile mussels for the first time in over 50 years. The juvenile mussels which had previously encysted on brown trout dropped off at our captive rearing facility in North Devon. This enabled us to collect them and return them to the River Torridge in specially selected locations. The captive breeding programme is currently in its second year, and during October 2017, the project was able to confirm a second year of successful glochidia (larvae) attachment on host fish.
It is with sadness that the Biosphere team says goodbye to Tom Hynes, our biodiversity officer and Matt Edworthy, our outreach coordinator. Both are being made redundant as a result of team reorganisation brought on by the current public sector funding squeeze. Matt’s last working day is 3rd August. Tom’s is in September.
Matt Edworthy explains that “the Biosphere’s Community Forum, which I coordinate will continue after I leave. It helps communities to get involved with Biosphere projects and provides a forum for people and communities to share what they do and benefit from Biosphere support.
The Riverfly citizen science project which Matt coordinated will also continue. Devon Wildlife Trust will take responsibility for the programme and volunteers in the River Torridge catchment , and we hope, the West Country Rivers Trust will do the same for the Taw”
Matt concludes "On a personal note, I would like to thank everyone for the help and support they have given me in my nine years with the Biosphere and I wish everyone the best on our shared and continuing journey towards a positive future for people and wildlife. It has been wonderful from start to finish – I’m usually behind the camera but here are some photos of me with great people doing wonderful and/or daft things!"
The Riverfly citizen science programme now has a total of nine active sites in the River Taw catchment, up from two last year. There are another 37 in the Torridge catchment. Through monthly volunteer sampling of invertebrates, all of them provide regular data on river water quality. If there are any problems, the Environment Agency is informed so that they can investigate and take remedial action.
The Riverfly programme was started in the Biosphere in 2014.
The Biosphere were fortunate enough to be invited to set up a stall for the recent Royal visit, part of a 'Best of North Devon' showcase that took place in Barnstaple's historic Pannier Market.
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall spent over an hour chatting to stall holders and representatives from various organisations including the North Devon Biosphere, Children’s Hospice South West, of which the Her Royal Highness is Patron, North Devon Hospice, and the North Devon AONB.
Andy Bell, Biosphere Coordinator said "I was pleasantly surprised when His Royal Highness started the conversation by saying "Biosphere, I have heard about this and am very interested". The conversation followed with talking about the work of the Biosphere Partnership on land and marine issues, and how we aim to improve the links between people and nature"
The Summer meeting of the Facilitation Group was held at Higher Hacknell Farm on 20th July. 21 Members attended and enjoyed an interesting walk around Tim & Jo Budden's 350-acre organic farm. This was followed by an excellent BBQ and plenty of chat about agriculture and the environment.
The most recent workshop was held on Wednesday 2nd August at West Week Farm titled 'Enhancing Biodiversity and Making Economic use of Woodland'. This proved to be a very valuable event for the 21 attendees who learned how to both help wildlife, and get some economic returns. The next workshop is a hedge-laying event on 6th October, so contact us if you wish to attend.
The Facilitation Fund has already held two workshops to help famers apply for Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship. Roland Stonex from FWAG has been very positive, knowledgeable and helpful to potential applicants.
A final mid-tier workshop will be on September 6th at High Bickington Community Centre. We have potentially 4 members applying for the scheme this year and we are hopeful that their applications will be successful.
Two new interpretation boards have been erected at Fremington Local Nature Reserve giving information on the wildlife and history of the reserve. One board is situated near the village green and gives details of the traditional apple trees planted here and shows some of the wildflowers that occur in the meadow. The second board covers the wildlife value of the recently constructed scrape. It is situated on land owned by Barrett Homes, adjacent to the reserve.
The boards were funded by North Devon Council and were produced by the management group which has representatives from North Devon Council, Fremington Parish Council and North Devon Biosphere.
Councillor Dick Jones, says: "We are very lucky to have a designated Local Nature Reserve in Fremington and Lovell's Field is a really special place. The scrape is the latest initiative to improve the area for birds and other wildlife and these two interpretation boards will explain to local residents and visitors how important the nature reserve is."
The next event at Fremington LNR is a bat and moth walk at Lovell's Field on Thursday 24 August, more details to follow.
"The North Devon Biosphere are currently working on a project, funded by the Environment Agency and Natural England, constructing new hedgebanks on a farm above Braunton. These Devon hedges are specially designed to slow the flow of water off the land, thereby reducing flood risk in the village. The new hedge banks have small raised spines (baffles) jutting at right angles from them. These act like groynes on a beach, but trap water rather than sand. They hold it until it drains gradually through pipes (weepholes) set just above ground level, which pass through the hedge into the drainage ditch beyond.
Tom Hutchings, Devon County Council’s Flood and Coastal Risk Manager says "The Devon Banks look so established already. I like the idea of the spines to limit the lateral flows along the toe of the bank and then the weepholes to allow the flow to be conveyed through the banks. These are really useful photographs that can be used to promote such actions elsewhere around the County.
Learn more about this and other hedge related projects by joining the Devon Hedge Group on Facebook.