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Offwell Wetland Survey

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Introduction

The Wetland Survey is a review of the ecological changes which have taken place in a wetland habitat approximately ten years after its restoration. It provides a graphic illustration of the benefits to wildlife of restoring habitats.

The restoration work was part of a larger work programme known as the The Wetlands Restoration Project . This project restored a number of aquatic habitats which had become silted up and overgrown with Rhododendron ponticum. Work began to restore the Wetland in 1988. Rhododendron clearance was completed by 1989 when the dam wall was repaired and the area flooded. The Wetlands Restoration Project was carried out at the Woodland Education Centre in Offwell, Devon, England.

A walking survey of the wetland area was carried out in 1991. It is important to remember that the rhododendron clearance started in this area in 1988. The Wetland was actually flooded in March 1989 to create a transition from open water to dry land.  Therefore by the time of the 1991 survey, there was significant natural regeneration particularly where it was wetter. Prior to the clearance rhododendron dominated.  This was followed by a detailed ecological survey in September 2000. This survey had three objectives:-

  1. To show what the wetland was like ten years after restoration.

  2. To provide an illustration of the types of plants and animals to be found in a wetland habitat in Southwest England.

  3. To illustrate the use of some common ecological sampling methods for the benefit of environmental students.

    A variety of different ecological sampling techniques were employed to survey the wetlands. The purpose of this was to demonstrate the variations in the results obtained when surveying the same area, but using different techniques.

The Wetland Survey pages are extensively illustrated with a wide variety of colourful images. The contents are clearly laid out in a mind map to aid navigation.

The following information can be accessed from the Wetland Survey pages.

  • A comparison between the wetland before restoration, soon after restoration and approximately ten years later.

  • A description of the wetland area. This includes a panorama view, an interactive diagram of the wetland, numerous images, plant species lists and descriptions of sub-regions within the wetland.

  • Information on wetlands in general, including plant zonation in wetlands and aquatic plant adaptations.

  • Pages dedicated to specific wetland plant species, such as Yellow Iris and Reedmace. These contain detailed information on each species, such as preferred habitat, structure, reproduction and dispersal. There are also links to images and information on a wide variety of wetland animals.

  • The results of the ecological survey of the wetland. These pages are of general interest, as well as being particularly aimed at environmental students. They include survey data and its interpretation, illustrated by bar charts and transect diagrams.

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