North Devon is about to get marine expertise to provide opportunities for everyone, young and old, resident or visitor, to explore the special marine life of our shores and beaches. This coastline has received national recognition with Westward Ho! to Foreland Point being designated as the longest Marine Conservation Zone in the country. This special heritage has now led the Heritage Lottery Fund to allocate £49,500 to the ‘Coastal Creatures’ project hosted by the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Commenting on the award, AONB Chairman Steve Pitcher said, “We are delighted to receive support from the Heritage Lottery Fund in recognition of the exceptional wildlife and habitats in the AONB. This will allow schools and communities to contribute to our scientific knowledge so we can conserve this valuable wildlife heritage for future generations.”
With funding for a two year ‘Education and Interpretation Officer’ the project will work with schools, groups, volunteers and communities from across North Devon. The focus is on the wildlife of four key beaches – Combe Martin, Lee Bay, Croyde Bay and Westward Ho!. The AONB team are working with local partners the National Trust, Northam Burrows Country Park, Coastwise North Devon and Combe Martin Primary School to bring together a range of skills and expertise to deliver the project.
Paula Ferris of Coastwise North Devon says, “This is a wonderful 10th anniversary present for Coastwise. As champions of our coast, with enthusiastic volunteers crying out for expert support, we see the Project’s potential for education, recreation and tourism, not to mention fun. We think Coastal Creatures will be brilliant for North Devon and look forward to playing a full part.”
“The children and staff of Combe Martin Primary School's Sea School are very excited about the opportunity to collaborate with other schools from around the region, to communicate their expertise and foster a sense of guardianship for our stunning coastal environment,” said Graham Hockley from Combe Martin Primary School.
Activities will include learning and citizen science opportunities to identify, record, enjoy and learn about the varied flora and fauna of the diverse coastal habitats. There are plans to establish new wildlife groups and develop stronger links between local natural history collections (in Ilfracombe and Combe Martin) and their natural environments. Beach cleans along the whole North Devon coast will reduce damage to coastal wildlife and leave our beaches in a better condition for people and wildlife.
“Our ambition is to get more children and adults down to the beach to be amazed and enthralled by the different creatures along our coast, whether in the rock pools, the strandline or along the cliffs and dunes,” said AONB Manager Jenny Carey-Wood. “If any school or group wants to get involved with the project, contact us through our website www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk.“