Summary of report on the core area from January 20th to July 18th 2008

Summary of report on the core area from January 20th to July 18th 2008 

1 Biosphere Volunteers
A total of 104 volunteer work days have taken place this year. Tasks involving the 5 regular Burrows volunteers have taken place on 16 occasions targeting the clearance of coarse grass & small scrub from previously flower rich areas plus regular monitoring - water tables, rabbit & newt counts, general recording of flora and fauna with an emphasis on moth trapping sessions. In addition North Devon College project 'Education to Employment' has worked with 6 volunteers & 1 volunteer from Exeter Drugs Rehabilitation Unit attended 2 tasks. Two beach cleans were completed. 

2 Rare species
The small blue butterfly last seen in 2004 has returned - active management is essential to ensure the survival of this nationally declining butterfly on Braunton Burrows, one of only 2 known colonies in Devon. 

3 Monitoring
The monthly water table readings in 18 sites on the Burrows and rainfall readings at the White House were continued. Between January 1st and July 10th the rainfall recorded was 5475ml, 1400 ml of this fell on July 9th. The average water table fall for this 6 monthly period to July 2nd was 20.5cm, less than usual. 11 rabbit counts show no significant change in numbers

4 Education Walks/Events
A programme of 22 guided walks & other activities has again been organised, these include several themed events with invited specialists for walks about history, herbal plants, butterflies and moth recording. The launch of the programme was delayed awaiting resolution of the hoped re-opening of Sandy Lane car park, as this did not take place the venue for many events was changed to Broadsands (Crow car park) 

5 Vandalism
The gates into Sandy Lane car park were burst open in early June & since January 4 padlocks on the American Road gate have been rendered unusable. Vehicles have continued to park on Crow Point & beach. Some locals, encouraged by a recommendation to DCC that the American Road should be a byway, claim they have a prescriptive right to take their vehicles to Crow. 

6 Dogs
The continual daily use of the Burrows by dog walkers has escalated to an unacceptable level with the site simply being monopolised by many locals as a dogs paradise. This is adversely affecting not only the flora and the fauna but is also detrimental to the quality of visitors’ experience of the site. The constant disturbance to wildlife caused by roaming dogs and the accumulated nutrients deposited in their urine & faeces is seriously affecting both the fauna & flora & is reducing the biodiversity of the dune system. 

7 International Links
July 15th Australians Steve Poole, co-ordinator of Noosa BR (1 year old!) Queensland and Russell Stewart, chair of the environmental group wish to twin with North Devon. They have presented a bid to UNESCO to incorporate Noosa into a Great Sandy Region BR of c1,400,000ha. On their visit to the Burrows unresolved issues made a poor impression of our Biosphere Reserve’s claim to be a ‘centre of excellence’ and it was found embarrassing to take such influential visitors through an unkempt litter strewn car park to a superb new information board that was surrounded by a sprinkling of dog faeces, before setting off into the dunes that have suffered from no management for 2 years. 
June 23rd to 26th – Le Touquet, a voluntary warden & I paid a twinning visit to the protected coastal nature reserves & Interpretive Centres around the area as guests of the Le Touquet Twinning Officer Phillippe Rey and Garde du Littoral, Nicolas Francois of La Reserve Naturelle de la Baie de Canche.

8 Sandy Lane car park closure
The sudden closure of Sandy Lane car park in early January resulted in the removal of the dog bin service, followed by much vehicle congestion & confusion - in early June vandals smashed the car park gates open and since the public have made used it as a free car park. 

9 Safety
The hazard of invasive bramble trailing across well established footpaths following 2 years without mowing is an increasing concern on guided walks, as a lady on a guided walk tripped on brambles & suffered multiple lacerations to her leg.

10 Funding
Funding for f/y 2008/2009, the last year of the education warden contract, has been reduced by 35%, reductions/adjustments to the work programme have been made to take this into account.

J M Breeds Education Warden 18.7.08