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WWT Welney Wetland Centre

WWT Welney Wetland Centre

The eco-friendly visitor centre, opened in April 2006, is the perfect base from which to explore the secrets of 1,200 acres of wetland. The Centre has a café and gift shop together with two meeting rooms for corporate and private use.

Funding support: Visitors and membership; part of WWT nationally; grants and other funding when available for particular projects.

Number of staff: 13 (including 4 part-time) plus 6 casual members of staff.

Number of visitors per year:

Overall aims of the centre

To manage and carry out vital conservation work on 1,200 acres of wetland reserve, saving wetlands for wildlife and people across the world.

Description of the centre

The eco-friendly visitor centre, opened in April 2006, is the perfect base from which to explore the secrets of 1,200 acres of wetland. The Centre has a café and gift shop together with two meeting rooms for corporate and private use.

The 1,000 acre WWT site is on the Ouse washes, a flood plain which is 22 miles long and half a mile wide. A winter haven to over 9,000 migratory Whooper and Bewick’s swans, the site is a SSSI, Ramsar. SPA and SAC accredited wetland. There is also a further 200 acres at the rear of the visitor centre which were completed in 2009.

Main CEPA work areas

Self-led school visits of all ages are welcomed with the provision of materials for their use i.e., identification sheets, pond-dipping, bug-hunting and bird watching. We also welcome life-long learning at Welney with workshops, trails, interpretation and warden talks. During the winter months there is a commentary upto 3 times per day during our wild winter swan feeds.

Top three successes

Wild winter swan feeds – a commentary provided for upto 120 members of public and groups, including schools, followed by a swan feed and question and answer session.

Canoe Safaris – led by a professional canoeist and Welney warden on some of the outer reaches of the Reserve with identification and commentary.

Workshops including – photography, willow weaving, digiscoping, painting plus seasonal arts and crafts activities on weekends and school holidays.

Top three challenges

1. Marketing Welney centre in such a way that people know they can visit in all weathers, all year round and not just when the migratory swans are here.
2. Continuing to provide both knowledge and skills for staff and volunteers to work with the public.
3. Ensuring that any interpretation and information is available to all of our visitors no matter what their age, ability or interest is.

Other information

The site holds internationally important wintering populations of Bewick’s swan, whooper swan, wigeon, gadwall, teal, pintail and shoveler. It is nationally important for a further six species of wintering waterfowl. Black-tailed godwit, breed along with significant numbers of lapwing, snipe, redshank, and yellow wagtail.

Most of the Washes are semi-natural and have not been improved. There is a long tradition of summer cattle grazing, with hay cutting, which continues and provides swards for grazing wintering wildfowl, and breeding waders.

Interpretation techniques

Creating signage / site information; using audio visual tools; producing written materials; developing nature trails.

Visitor centres

Setting up a new visitor centre; running a visitor centre; managing / creating habitat; building / maintaining structures.

Participation

Working with disabled people; engaging young people; working with volunteers; engaging the local community.

Education and communication

Working with primary schools; working with secondary schools; delivering adult education; developing resources /materials.

General

Running effective administration; fund-raising; PR and marketing; health and safety; project planning.

Julie Ward, Centre Manager – Leigh Marshall, Reserve Manager
WWT Welney Wetland Centre, Hundred Foot Bank, Welney, Nr Wisbech, PE14 9TN
T: 01353 860711
E: Julie.ward@wwt.org.uk or info.welney@wwt.org.uk
www.wwt.org.uk/welney

The WLI network is endorsed by the Ramsar Convention on wetlands and coordinated by WWT.

Contact

Wetland Link International
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, GL2 7BT, UK
T: +44 (0) 1453 891214
E: info@wli.org.uk Twitter: @wetlandlink