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Coastal Creatures is a 2 year, externally funded project within the AONB providing an experienced and knowledgeable ‘education and interpretation’ officer. It was developed by the AONB Manager to broaden the engagement and reach of the AONB with communities within its boundaries, in the adjacent areas and with experts and enthusiasts from SW England. The project’s basis is the coastal wildlife of the AONB, making it accessible to residents, visitors and experts through a wide range of citizen science activities.
This project has been nominated as an illustration of outstanding partnership work between an AONB project officer (Cat Oliver), a community organisation of volunteers (Coastwise North Devon), a primary school (Combe Martin Sea School) and a community of beach care groups. Their achievement has been to reach new audiences for the AONB (schools, colleges, community groups, wildlife and marine experts) through citizen science, training, coastal experiences and beach cleans.
In the first year:
Outputs after first year: 1 FTE officer appointed; 57 people trained in citizen science survey skills; 2 coastal Bioblitzes delivered with 640 people attending; 293 citizen science volunteer opportunities contributed; 2 student volunteer placements provided; 18 beach cleans completed involving 700 volunteer opportunities; 6 MCS beach litter surveys completed; over £10,000 value of volunteer contributions to the project; 10 schools, 1 college and 1 pre-school group taken part in activities;
Outcomes – much closer and stronger working relationship between the AONB team and other local organisations (such as community interest groups, National Trust, Country Park team, National Park, district council staff, schools and museums); building working relationships with regional organisations (Marine Biological Association, Local Nature Partnership, Education and University groups, marine groups and organisations, wildlife groups, campaign organisations (SAS, 2 Minute Beach Clean, MCS); broadening the reach and activities of the AONB to better engage with schools, community groups, special interest groups, families, visitors and residents.
Quote from participant
Quote from Paula Ferris, Coastwise North Devon “The Coastal Creatures project is proving to be everything we hoped for and more. Our group Coastwise North Devon gets to work with experts through local access to marine training workshops for the first time. We are developing biological skills to develop our conservation work led by the excellent project officer Cat Oliver. We get to put our new knowledge into practice through a programme of shore survey work that she has organised for us. Team building, improved communications skills and new member recruitment are happy by-products. Local marine habitats are finally getting the attention they deserve and the North Devon coast will benefit now and in the future thanks to the AONB.”
Key search words: Coast Wildlife, ecology, Marine, Beach, Education, Survey skills, Citizen science
Photo credits: Learning about the strandline with Coastal Creatures officer Cat Oliver; Swimbridge School rockpooling at Croyde beach; marine litter at Cockington Mouth sorted into different types for recycling – an extreme beach clean requiring litter removal by boat from an inaccessible beach – North Devon AONB