This is not a photo essay about the wildlife of wetlands, although they are certainly characters that come to the fore. Rather, it is a subjective insight into the fantastically diverse and vibrant worlds of wetlands in lowland England. It is a personal encounter as I explore these wet landscapes and think about their sense of place and how different landscape elements come together and have meaning for me. The following are a series of 32 photographs, selected from over 2000, taken over three years across numerous wetlands in England. Ranging across the North Kent Marshes in the South East, to Alkborough Flats on the Humber and the Avalon Marshes in the South West. The photographs and associated text captures my experience of wetlands and hopefully something of the inspiring, haunting and reflective qualities I encountered.
Originally exhibited at the Royal Geographical Society in January 2020, the full photo essay can now be viewed online here.
Written by WetlandLIFE team members Mary Gearey, Andrew Church and Neil Ravenscroft, this book argues that to understand wetlands is to understand human development. Using case studies drawn from three English wetlands, the book moves between empirical research and scholarship to interrogate how these particular ecosystems have played an essential part in the development of our contemporary society; yet inhabit a strange place in our national psyche. Chapters address a range of cultural and environmental wetland concerns. Consideration is given to: the ways in which we have revered, engineered and renaturalised these landscapes throughout history; English wetlands as spaces of beauty, creativity, reflection, rejuvenation and multi-species interactions; accelerating climate change in an age of neoliberalism. The final chapter then is a reflection on our collective lives together alongside other species, exploring what sustainability transitions might mean for human-wetland relationships.
Published in 2020, more information and ways to buy the book in print or as an e-book are available on the publisher's website here.
This short documentary is a narrative on experiences and views of mosquitoes in wetlands in three parts of England - Somerset, Bedford and Alkborough Flats in the Humber - made using a method called Community Voice. The participants were asked about many experiences related to wetlands - sense of place, nature, mental and physical health and wellbeing, changes in the landscape, challenges and future visions. Questions about mosquitoes were centred around how they experience them (if at all), their views towards them, any adaptations they make, and their perceptions of risk now and into the future. You can watch the short documentary here.
Community Voice Documentaries
These documentaries are narratives on experiences and values related to wetlands in England, created using a research method called Communit Voice. We focused our research around urban wetlands in Bedford (Priory Country Park and Millennium Country Park), at wetlands associated with agricultural reversion on the Somerset Levels (Shapwick Heath and Westhay Moor) and at a coastal wetland created to protect homes on the Humber estuary (Alkborough Flats). The resulting documentaries for Bedford and Somerset can be watched above, while the Alkborough documentary is in preparation.
Participants included people living within or near wetlands, people working in wetlands, those who visit or volunteer, and others who have a strong connection with the sites. The participants were asked about their experiences related to wetlands - sense of place, nature, mental and physical health and wellbeing, changes in the landscape, challenges and future visions. Additionally, they were asked questions about mosquitoes - how they experience them (if at all), their views towards them, any adaptations they make, and their perceptions of risk now and into the future. These question, and their responses, provide an insight into the values associated with wetlands, particularly from a health and wellbeing perspective, and future considerations for management and wetland restoration.
Held at the Royal Geographical Society in London, from 27th January to 2nd February 2020, visitors to the exhibition had the opportunity to explore and celebrate the values of these environments through an interdisciplinary combination of physical science, social science, economics, human and cultural geography, poetry, audio and visual art. They also had the opportunity to gain further insight or discuss the works with members of the project teams who were present throughout the week. The full exhibition guide is available to download here.
A stakeholders day (by invitation) was held on Friday 31st January, where key stakeholders and interested parties could engage more closely with the science and art behind the projects through talks, discussion, and a guided exhibition tour. Click here for the introductory presentation from WetlandLIFE Principal Investigator, Dr Tim Acott.