Clare’s Story For Change
Whilst studying at Exeter University and training to be a Dive Instructor, I started taking photos to raise awareness of the issues facing the natural world. I believe that using media to raise awareness for conservation and environmental purposes is key to future protection of our natural resources.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to start working alongside the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, documenting the progress of two beavers released into a river system in Ladock village (near Truro) which has suffered from severe flooding.
The #CornwallBeaverProject is part of a wider movement trying to reintroduce Beavers into the UK and The Cornwall Wildlife Trust, with partners Woodland Valley Farm, released this beautiful pair at the beginning of June. There was also huge support from Crowdfunder and local partner Universities, who will study before and after effects to the landscape.
The aim of the project is to prove to both local communities and regional governments that beavers can help improve our natural ecosystems, cleanse our waterways and crucially reduce flooding – naturally. This saves money on hard flood defences and has many positive benefits both environmentally and sociologically.
Photographing the release was extremely special and a huge success. Much to the onlooker’s delight, the pair took time exploring their new surroundings, even checking out the crowd on the banks before starting their adventure. In the past month, they have settled in well and significant changes have already occurred with dams being built.
If you would like to get involved, there is the option to attend on one of Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s fascinating Beaver watch, please contact the Cornwall Wildlife Trust for more details.
Watch this space for updates. Over the coming months, I will be revisiting the site on a regular basis in order to document the changes in environment and to tell the Beaver’s story!
I hope you like the photos and film I’ve taken so far for my Stories for Change, this is just the beginning of an exciting journey!
Cornwall Beaver Project Update – Summer 2018
It has been over a year since the release of the beaver couple into their new home at Woodland Valley Farm. Over this time I revisited the release site on a variety of occasions. The main purpose of these visits was to document the changes that the beavers had been making to the environment, the river channel and the ecosystem as a whole. It has been a fascinating journey, watching their home evolve throughout the year. Below is a photo story outlining these changes.
Only a few months had passed since the release, yet the change to the woodland and wetlands was already very obvious and extremely impressive. The beavers had felled many trees and been busy building their main dam, meaning that the water level had risen by a considerable amount. They had used the island in the middle of the lake as a base in which they built their main lodge.
The next time I visited was in August. The water level had risen slightly, however not as dramatically as the previous time. The significant change to the area was the number of further dams that had been built downstream, flooding a large area of the woodland, thus creating new pools and increasing the size of the river system. It is fascinating to see how fast they alter the immediate environment.
Although, the main purpose of my visits to Woodland Valley Farm had been in order to document the change in landscape, I was still determined to get more photos of the beavers themselves.
At the beginning of 2018, exciting news arrived that the pair had settled in so well that over winter they had started a family. The arrival of the beaver pups is a clear indicator that they feel at home in their new environment. However, trying to get a photo of the new arrivals proved to be far more challenging than expected.
One summer evening I arrived at the farm at 6pm, having heard that the beavers had been very active that day. I thought this would give me a few hours to try and get some footage of them before nightfall.
The change they had made to their environment was impressive as they had built a number of new dams and cut down a lot more trees. I took up position at the waters edge and waited, waited and waited some more. As I sat quietly amongst the trees, a family of Canadian geese appeared, who seemed to have taken up residence on the new waterways which the beavers had created. It is amazing how fast four and a half hours can pass, I spent these hours watching the geese whilst soaking up the relaxing sounds of nature and watching the magical light playing on the water.
Suddenly, I was woken out of my mediative trance by a slight rustle not far from me, I was instantly alert – splash! The male appeared. He popped out of the dense bushes next to me, where he had created his bachelor lodge. Proceeding to swim across the lake and then climbing across the main dam into the next pond. Shortly afterward, one of the pups emerged from the safety of the lodge and swam across the lake directly towards me, a beautiful sight to behold. The pups float comically above the water as they swim.
Just as I thought the evening could not get any better, one of the adults climbed out next to me and started munching on the brambles. He was so close I hardly dared to breathe or move a muscle as I listened to him munching.
As darkness fell I eventually left, leaving the beaver family in peace so that they could continue building their dams and bringing up their family. Following on from the success of this project there are further beaver couples being introduced into other sites around the UK over the coming year.