Tuesday, 28 May 2013

B10 Event: Lundy Splash In! Underwater Photography Competition

Wildlife enthusiasts, divers, snorklers and paddlers here is your chance to enter North Devon’s only underwater photography competition, The Lundy Splash In! This year’s Lundy Splash In! is part of the B10 programme of events, celebrating ten years of North Devon’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The competition will be held on Saturday 29 June 2013 in the waters around Lundy. The competition costs £20 to enter and entry fees include one night’s camping on the scenic island off the North Devon coast. Lundy with its unique ecosystem both in and out of the water contributes a special element to the diverse variety of habitats making up North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve. Due to its distinctive marine life, Lundy has the UK’s only Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) and the first ever No Take Zone. These designations ensure the protection of the marine area and help preserve this unique place for the future. Beccy MacDonald, the Lundy Warden, told us “This year’s competition is promising to be an excellent one, as the seas around Lundy are already teeming with life. The early plankton blooms have already brought Basking Sharks along with an array of jellyfish species. Those taking part in the competition will be spoilt for choice as always, as the Marine Conservation Zone has so many underwater landscapes and species to choose from such as the favourite subjects of kelp forests, mischievous grey seals and spectacular jewel anemones.” As well as a fabulous opportunity to get up close with Lundy's awe inspiring marine life there is a total prize fund with a value of almost £3000!  Prizes for the competition have been kindly donated by Mares, Olympus, Forth Element, Scuba Travel, Sea & Sea and AP Valves. 
This year’s Lundy Splash In! categories are:
  1. Mega to Macro: close-up portraits of marine species
  2. Marine Ambience: portraying the MCZ and its spectacular underwater scenery
  3. Marine Abstract: down to your imagination
To enter the competition please email warden@lundyisland.co.uk for a pre-registration form as places are limited. The Marisco Tavern will be hosting the after-photography party on the Saturday night with local Celtic folk rock band The Dambuskers providing the party music!
Visit the Lundy MCZ website for more information http://www.lundymcz.org.uk/ and the Lundy Company website for transport and accommodation details http://www.lundyisland.co.uk/.
Photos: Compass by James Wright (jellyfish abstract) / Into the Deep by Mark Lavington (Diver)
Copyright all rights reserved

Monday, 27 May 2013


A brand new art event that needs your support! Ilfracombe is holding its own art event this summer. Running from July into August, Ilfra-Expo will be presenting a selection of emerging and established artists from across the UK. Artworks are created in response to Ilfracombe and will be displayed in a variety of venues throughout the town, including large-scale public artworks that will remain in place throughout the summer. You can follow the process on twitter @ilfraexpo and on www.facebook.com/ilfraexpo. This event is a pilot for future events and is relying on the communities support. Could you help by volunteering your time? Support needed from people with a good local knowledge to offer guided tours and to act as live guides in some of the venues. You need to be confident talking to other people and have a desire to positively promote the event and Ilfracombe. Can you be available between 14th July and 11th August 2013? Please contact Erin Rickard for more details: lfraexpo@gmail.com

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Devon’s Nature in Trouble. Conservation organisations join forces to call on people to take action

OUR NATURE IS IN TROUBLE – this is the conclusion of a groundbreaking report launched today by a coalition of leading conservation and research organisations. Scientists working side-by-side from wildlife organisations across the UK, including Devon Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Buglife and Butterfly Conservation, have compiled a stock-take of our native species – the first of its kind in the UK. The report reveals that 60% of the species studied have declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing. Peter Burgess, Conservation Advocacy Manager for Devon Wildlife Trust said: "Once familiar species including hedgehogs, lapwings and cuckoos, are declining in extent and numbers. Our seas too are in a fragile state as the recent death of thousands of seabirds due to pollution has shown." The report concludes that woodland, Culm grassland, heathland, upland, fresh water and wetland, coastal and marine species are all under threat in Devon. The State of Nature report will be launched by Sir David Attenborough and UK conservation charities at the Natural History Museum in London this evening. This report serves as a reminder to us all that nature needs our help and we can all do our bit to save it. Its authors are calling on people to support conservation charities and take action for wildlife. Sir David Attenborough, who wrote the foreword to the publication, said: “This groundbreaking report is a stark warning – but it is also a sign of hope. For 60 years I have travelled the world exploring the wonders of nature and sharing that wonder with the public. But as a boy my first inspiration came from discovering the UK’s own wildlife. “Our islands have a rich diversity of habitats which support some truly amazing plants and animals. We should all be proud of the beauty we find on our own doorstep; from bluebells carpeting woodland floors and delicately patterned fritillary butterflies, to the graceful basking shark and the majestic golden eagle soaring over the Scottish mountains. “This report shows that our species are in trouble, with many declining at a worrying rate. However, we have in this country a network of passionate conservation groups supported by millions of people who love wildlife. The experts have come together to highlight the amazing nature we have around us and to ensure that it remains here for generations to come.”  Dr Mark Eaton, a lead author on the report and a Senior Conservation Scientist for RSPB, said: “This report reveals that the UK’s nature is in trouble - overall we are losing wildlife at an alarming rate. “Reliable data on these species goes back just 50 years, at most, but we know that there has been a historical pattern of loss in the UK going back even further. Threats including sweeping habitat loss, changes to the way we manage our countryside, and the more recent impact of climate change, have had a major impact on our wildlife, and they are not going away." Devon Wildlife Trust’s Peter Burgess will be speaking at the event alongside Sir David Attenborough. Peter commented: “For the first time in the history of the conservation movement we have a clear picture of how Britain’s special wildlife is faring. Nowhere is this information more important than in Devon, a county that supports the country’s most biodiverse parish {Braunton] and which is home to two of the ten most-threatened species in Europe [the marsh fritillary butterfly and the freshwater pearl mussel]. It’s a great honour to be involved in launching this report by presenting alongside Sir David Attenborough – someone that has done more that anyone else in reconnecting people with the stunning wildlife that we have in this country.” Peter continued, “None of this work would have been possible without the army of volunteer wildlife enthusiasts who spend their spare time surveying species and recording their findings. Our knowledge of nature in the UK would be significantly poorer without these unsung heroes, and that knowledge is the most essential tool that conservationists have. "Peter concluded, “It is time for us to take action to save nature and we are calling on people to give their support. We can all do something for nature, whether it is volunteering on a nature reserve, surveying species, making wildlife-friendly gardens, supporting campaigns or by becoming a member of a conservation charity."
 Please go to www.devonwildlifetrust.org for details on how to support Devon Wildlife Trust. 

State of Nature national fact file:
  • The total number of larger moths had fallen by 28% since the late 1960s and two-thirds of the 337 species monitored had declined, and 37% by more than half.
  • 72% of butterfly species had decreased over the previous 10 years, including common garden butterflies that had declined by 24%.
  • The UK has lost 44 million breeding birds since the late 1960s.
  • In 16 counties, one plant species went extinct every other year.
  • Britain's mammals have seen losses and gains, with decline of hedgehogs, the ongoing loss of red squirrels, and the recovery of otters.
  •  In 2010, Norman Maclean's book Silent Summer summarised dramatic declines in the UK's insect populations, and concluded that 'our wildlife is clearly in for a bumpy ride'. 
State of Nature Devon fact file:
  • 80% of England’s Culm grasslands can be found in Devon. A survey of Culm Grassland in the early 1990s indicated that between 1984 and 1991, some 65% of the Culm Grassland area present in 1984 and outside of protected areas was lost. 80% of this loss was due to agricultural improvement, the rest due to afforestation, neglect or development.
  • 30% of the Pebblebed Heaths lowland heathland were lost in the twentieth century to plantation, arable, improved grassland and mineral development.
  • Devon is thought to hold 20% of the UK’s species rich hedgerows. The implementation of the Hedgerow Regulations 1997, together with the positive influence of agri-environment schemes, is likely to have halted the net loss of species-rich hedges. However, it is also likely that the condition of a number of hedges is continuing to decline due to a lack of suitable management.
  • Between 1987 and 1991, it is thought that 24% of unimproved grassland sites within Devon had deteriorated due to inappropriate management, 24% of sites had deteriorated due to neglect, 4% of sites had been partly destroyed and 2% wholly destroyed.
  • In 2007, Devon was estimated as holding 4,063 hectares of parkland and wood pasture. However, it is likely that well over 50% of working wood pasture and parkland has been lost to either scrub woodland and/or to arable/improved grassland over the last 50 years.
  • Devon has the first Marine Conservation Zone around Lundy. Devon Wildlife Trust has been working for over 15 years to protect the Lyme Bay Reefs resulting in the development of Britain’s largest inshore marine protected area.
  • The cuckoo has declined by 80% in Devon and is now absent from much of the county’s farmland. Lapwing numbers have fallen to below 100 breeding pairs on farmland in Devon.
  • Ring ouzels are nearing extinction on Dartmoor.
  • Devon holds 20% of the known UK marsh fritillary butterfly colonies. Although, once widely distributed throughout the UK, marsh fritillaries have declined substantially over the last 150 years. The butterfly has recently died out over most of eastern England and eastern Scotland. Despite a quite widespread distribution in south west England colonies are estimated to be disappearing at more than 10% a decade. 
  • The only remaining UK population of the rare cuckoo bee Nomada sexfasciata hangs on along a short stretch of the South Devon coast.
  • England’s last remaining population of the narrow-headed ant (Formica exsecta) hangs on at a single site in Devon.
  • A 99% decline has taken place in greater horseshoe bat populations throughout the UK over the last century. Devon remains one of its last strongholds.
  • Freshwater pearl mussels on the rivers Taw and Torridge have not produced young for over 40 years – these represent the only remaining populations in the south of England.
Sir David Attenborough

‘The lapwing is just one of many species that a new report says is struggling in Devon.’
Photo, Neil Bygrave

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

North Devon Theatres Collaborate with the Biosphere for B10 Celebrations

As champions of North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve North Devon Theatres are helping to mark the 10th anniversary of the Reserve’s designation. The work of North Devon Theatres Trust reaches wider than theatre productions alone and the Theatres are joining the B10 celebrations with art, music and beer! Alan Dodd, programme director at the Theatres says “North Devon Theatres has had a close relationship with the Biosphere Reserve right from its inception by co-ordinating a huge array of cultural events throughout the region during June each year, which formed part of the North Devon Festival. Sadly this Festival no longer occurs, but we are very pleased to be part of the B10 10thAnniversary Celebrations along with many other partner organisations.”

1. Art Trek - North Devon’s open studio event, Art Trek is promoted by the Theatres and this year the event shares its 10th birthday with the Biosphere. Biosphere Coordinator Andy Bell says “"The World Biosphere Reserve in north Devon is home to many talented artists who are inspired by the area's character, produce and culture. Art Trek is a great way to explore the work of a large number of these people and reflect on what inspires them." This is an excellent opportunity to get out and about in the Biosphere to make the most of our fabulous creative and natural resources by making your way around Art Trek by foot, bike or bus. Art Trek runs for three weekends between Saturday 6 July and Sunday 21 July 2013 and sees local artists throwing open the doors to their homes and studios and inviting people in to see their work in progress. The studios include galleries, village halls, caf├ęs and homes within the beautiful North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. So get on your bike, lace up your boots or check out the local bus time tables and make this year's Art Trek a 'greener' one forB10, the tenth anniversary of North Devon's Biosphere Reserve! Art Trek locations and details are listed on the North Devon Theatres website and you can visit the North Devon Coast AONB's website Explore The Coast to match up a walking trail with Art Trek venues or if you prefer to take the bus you find links to local bus services on the North Devon Council website.
2. North Devon Theatres Classical Music Season. North Devon Theatres have themed their 2013/14 classical music season In Tune with Nature to celebrate B10, the tenth anniversary of the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Classical Music Consultant and Series Curator, Ambrose Miller says “2013 celebrates the 10th anniversary of North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve designation and with the B10 celebration in mind, we chose as the theme for our series, ‘In Tune with Nature’. Each performance will either include pieces of music which have, over the years, been associated with the countryside or show how nature directly inspired composers.” The series of concerts starts in September 2013 with one of the country’s leading orchestras, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maxine Tortelier. They will perform Mendelssohn, Bruch and Beethoven.
3. The B10 Beer. So if you are trekking around Art Trek or making a visit to the Theatre B10 beer will quench your thirst! The North Devon Biosphere launched its limited edition B10 beer on Friday 3 May 2013 at The Landmark Beer Festival in Ilfracombe. Actors Liza Goddard and Gary Mavers who were starring in Agatha Christie's Go Back for Murder at The Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple toasted the Biosphere and the B10 celebrations with the tasty real ale. B10 beer has been brewed by Simon Lacey of Country Life Brewery in Abbotsham near Bideford. Simon uses natural ingredients and traditional brewing methods and is a perfect example of a Biosphere Business supporter. Here's what the Landmark beer festival goers said:
Charmain Lovett "The B10 is my favourite."
Oliver Tooley "I have a pint of it in front of me now. Delightful dark honey colour, well balanced between sweetness and hops. Fruity finish."

Keep an eye out for B10 beer on sale at North Devon Theatres, local festivals and pubs in North Devon and take a look at the B10 beer mats too as they have details of how to enter our fabulous prize draw!

B10 beer at Landmark beer festival - photo copyright North Devon Biosphere

Monday, 13 May 2013

B10 Event: The Happiness Calculator - A Talk on How Low Carbon Living is Good for Us and the Planet with Mukti Mitchell,

North Devon’s ‘Climate Guru’, is best known for sailing around Britain to promote happiness-inspired low carbon living. To show his support for North Devon’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mukti joins the B10 event programme with this inspirational talk at The Plough Arts Centre on Thursday 16 May 2013. Mitchell has won several awards for the creation of his carbon footprint calculator, eco-yacht design and unique secondary glazing system. In this interactive presentation, Mukti demonstrates his quality of life calculator, describes the thrills and perils of sailing around Britain in a 15ft yacht, and gives tips on energy conservation for period homes. Mukti who is director of the CosyHome Company, providing insulation for period homes says "Running a sustainable business in Bideford it is fantastic to work with the Biosphere Reserve and to be part of their programme bringing together the interests of individuals, business and the environment for mutual long term benefit"

B10 Event – Mukti Mitchell – The Happiness Calculator Thursday 16 May 2013 8.15 pm The Gallery, The Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington, North Devon FREE

Thursday, 9 May 2013

B10 Prize Draw - Trip to Lundy and other fab prizes!

The message of North Devon’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is ‘Living and Working in Harmony with Nature’. This message encompasses our daily lives, learning, earning and enjoying our unique natural environment. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Biosphere designation we are running a fabulous free prize draw with prizes highlighting all these aspects of life in the Biosphere. There is a bountiful prize pot full of fabulous prizes donated by Biosphere businesses and individual supporters. For getting out and about in the Biosphere and spotting some of our wonderful wildlife we have a trip to Lundy on the MS Oldenburg, a Wildlife Cruise on the Ilfracombe Princess and even a thrilling Coasteering experience with the Ultimate Adventure Centre in Abbotsham. For arts lovers we have a Quay Drawing outdoor art class, Panto tickets to Sleeping Beauty at The Queen’s Theatre, a family ticket to a Beaford Arts event. Local artisan leather belt maker Louise Middleton of Golden Bear Belts has contributed a bespoke leather belt – as seen in a recent Miss Vogue magazine. And there’s more … here’s the full list of prizes
  1. Canvas print by photographer Stephen Ring who produces beautiful photos of landscapes within the Biosphere
  2. En plein air (outdoor) drawing class with Quay Drawing
  3. Wildlife cruise on Ilfracombe Princess
  4. Coasteering with Ultimate Adventure Centre
  5. Marshford Organic Veg Box
  6. North Devon Theatres family ticket
  7. Beaford Arts Event family ticket
  8. Biosphere Foundation T Shirts
  9. Home Energy Survey by 361 Energy
  10. Lundy Island tickets X 2
  11. Meeth Quarry Guided Tour
  12. Wildlife walk around West Week Farm, Chulmleigh – County Wildlife Site
  13. Louise Middleton Golden Bear Belt
  14. NDT Friends Classical CDs
  15. U3A cook book
  16. Tarka Pottery – Potter’s Wheel Experience 

It is free to enter the draw and there are plenty of ways to enter: 
1. Online at www.northdevonb10.org.uk
2. By completing an entry form at one of our B10 events – details on the website and in local what’s on guides
3. By post to B10 Prize Draw, North Devon's Biosphere Reserve, Room 508, Civic Centre, Barnstaple, EX31 1EA 4. by email to amanda.mccormack@devon.gov.uk.

Four-legged employee is welcomed by charity

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) is celebrating the birth of a new staff member - one with four legs. Early on the morning of Monday 6 May one of DWT's herd of six pedigree Exmoor ponies gave birth to a colt (male) foal at the charity's Meeth Quarry nature reserve, near Hatherleigh. Meeth Quarry's Nature Reserve Officer is Ian Chadwick. Ian had been nervously anticipating the birth for several weeks and said: "I've been on 'foal watch' for awhile now, but of course the baby arrived very early on Bank Holiday Monday when no one was around. Nevertheless, mother and foal are doing very well, although the youngster was a bit wobbly to start with." Ian continued: "Our next job is to name the foal. With the mother being called 'Liquorice' we plan to carry on with a tradition of sweet names. The frontrunners at the moment are 'Fudge', 'Toffee' and 'Rock'." The arrival is especially welcome because it strengthens a vital team of workers within Devon Wildlife Trust. Speaking about their important role, the charity's Steve Hussey said: "The herd of Exmoor ponies are our unpaid workforce at Meeth Quarry. They work 24 hours a day, seven days a week munching the rank grasses and scrubby shrubs which would otherwise quickly overwhelm the nature reserve's open areas." Meeth Quarry is Devon Wildlife Trust's most recent acquisition. It was purchased in December 2012 using funds from Viridor Credits Environmental Company and generous local donors. At 150 hectares it is one of the largest of the charity's 48 reserves. Its Exmoor ponies are playing a crucial role in its upkeep. Using funding from Natural England, Devon Wildlife Trust has been busy since January improving the nature reserve for visitors and wildlife. Amongst many changes it has installed a number of trails for walkers, wheelchair users and cyclists. These paths link to the Tarka Trail which passes through the centre of the site which was a working clay quarry until 2004. At present Meeth nature reserve is not yet open to visitors but Devon Wildlife Trust is planning an opening event at Meeth Quarry nature reserve on Friday 31 May between 10.30am and 4.30pm. The free event will be a chance for people to visit the site for the first time and may be to catch a glimpse of charity's latest 'staff member' - the Exmoor foal. 
"Mother 'Liquorice' keeps a maternal eye over Devon Wildlife Trust's latest team member." - Photo copyright Devon Wildlife

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


Described as 'Nufunk's very own Mr Midas', Featurecast has proved himself a leader in his field. From DJing to Producing, he's had an incredible few years, churning out some of the biggest party tracks and bootlegs on labels like Good Groove, Bomb Strikes, Jalapeno, Catskills & Funk Weapons. Receiving praise from a host of major players such as Krafty Kuts, Norman Jay, DJ Yoda, Z-Trip, & A.Skillz describing him as ‘One to Watch’, Featurecast has crafted his own unique sound combining amazing pinpoint scratching whilst effortlessly cutting between Funk, Hip-Hop, Breaks, Dubstep and Drum & Bass. He's dazzled the crowds of some of the biggest festivals and venues around the globe from Canada’s Shambhala, Germany’s Fusion, Serbia’s 3p Festival as well as touring the USA, Australia and playing all over Europe. With an Artist Album in the works and lashings of party bangers on their way, it's time to make some noise for Featurecast! Warm up and support comes from local up and coming Ghetto Funk DJ Richy J. Richy J has previously supported Featurecast so knows just how to set the perfect party vibe . Richy J was involved in choosing other local supports from a huge selection of local DJs after they submitted their demo mixes. The lucky bunch to grab a support slot are – Bear La Soul, Funky George and Wamjam.

Doors open at 8pm – 1am £6 entry in advance [more on the door] Advance tickets: Beats Workin Barnstaple, North Devon Theatres & Petroc Brannams Campus. Online tickets available from: www.undergroundtickets.net/event/408

Friday, 3 May 2013

Local children get to the roots of clean water in North Devon

Children from Bradworthy Primary Academy were armed with spades and forks last week in the name of conservation! The class of ten and eleven year olds visited a local farm to help finish planting a new woodland. Over 1,100 trees have been planted at the farm on steep land next to a watercourse, using funding from the Woodland Trust and the Environment Agency. The trees are a mixture of native species characteristic of the area, including oak, birch and rowan, which will develop in to a valuable home for local wildlife. Devon Wildlife Trust's Laurie Jackson said: "The location of the planting next to the watercourse is crucial as it will help to buffer against run-off from the land, which would otherwise enter the River Torridge". She added: "The planting links to existing woodland and will provide more of this important habitat, as well as preventing livestock from accessing the watercourse where they could get stuck." The tree planting was organised by the Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area (NIA) team. The NIA is a North Devon Biosphere Reserve Partnership project led by Devon Wildlife Trust. The project works across the catchment of the River Torridge to deliver long-term benefits for the environment and local people, by restoring a landscape able to provide essential services such as clean water. Working with local land owners to manage our natural resources is vital to the success of the NIA project. By adapting land management to minimise the amount of nutrients, sediment and pollutants that are reaching our watercourses, the costs of treating our water can be reduced. The project team also want to get local communities involved with their work. This includes parish groups and schools, as well as teaming up with local volunteers. The children from Bradworthy Primary Academy not only worked hard as tree planters for the day, but also had a chance to learn about farming, visit habitats rich in wildlife and walk along a stretch of the River Torridge itself. "Making our way through the soggy culm grassland to get to the river proved one of the most entertaining parts of the day!" said Devon Wildlife Trust Community Outreach Officer, Tamasine Addie. Richard Stephenson, Head Teacher at Bradworthy Primary Academy summed up the activity nicely: "We had a lovely day!" You can learn more about the landowner advice service and community work carried out by the NIA by contacting the team on 01409 221823.