Countryside and Community Research Unit



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B) Jurassic Coast – South West England
The Jurassic Coast extends from Exmouth to Purbeck near Swanage with 95 unbroken miles of cliff. A new geological era starts from Swanage. The Jurassic Coast Heritage Team (funded by Dorset and Devon County Councils) has submitted a bid for World Heritage funding for several new centres along the coast and is now trying to obtain lottery money for heritage. There is some tension regarding whether these centres will be sustainable into the longer term and whether they will affect the sustainability of existing centres.

  1. Characteristics of the area


There are185 million years worth of unbroken stratigraphy along the 95 miles of spectacular coastline. It is important for fossilised remains of marine life since the area preserves materials from the Mesozoic period (dinosaur era). This is one of the UK’s four natural World Heritage Sites. Experience from other World Heritage Sites suggests that the designation provides a useful way of conveying the quality of the site (The Tourism Company, 2003). The coastline is spectacular in terms of consisting of high sandstone and chalkland and is accessible through Gateway towns and the South West Coast Path. The JCWHS connects the sea with the broader countryside, most of which is designated as AONB, nationally important for landscape, biodiversity and archaeology.

Social and cultural characteristics are varied, but maritime activities have been predominant, for example, Lyme Regis grew up as a port, Bridport a centre of the net-making industry, and Portland and Weymouth are important in terms of naval connections, quarrying, local industry, fishing and latterly of course, a popular tourist resort. Swanage and Purbeck have been significant for quarrying and ball clay extraction, with Purbeck now being heavily dependent on tourism.

The Jurassic Coast has a series of small gateway and nodal towns. The only place of any significant size is Weymouth and Portland (40,000+ population). Otherwise there are a number of small market and coastal towns – Swanage, Bridport, Lyme, Dorchester and Honiton (the latter two are inland but act as node points for transport). There are two big conurbations that are at either end of the coast Poole-Bournemouth in the East and Exeter in West. Essentially the coast is lowly populated with small villages.


2) Management

A Jurassic Coast Interpretation Action Plan has been produced which covers the length of the stretch of coast (see Locum Consulting (2005), Natural History Museum Scoping Study (2003) and www.jurassiccoast.com). This details the visitor attractions found along the coast but categorises them as ‘Primary Gateway’; ‘Local Gateway’; ‘Unique Insight’; ‘Local Outpost’; and, ‘Education Facilities’ (see later for more detail). The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Steering Group produced the document which provides a broad framework for the area and the place of individual sites within it. There is also a Science and Conservation World Heritage Advisory Group and other working/support groups may be established. Staff resources have been identified within Devon and Dorset County Councils (see Management Plan at http://www.dorsetforyou.com). The Steering Group has horizontal links to new AONB-related countryside structures, the proposed World Heritage Trust and the Dorset Coast Forum, partner staff and resources and the staff team. It has vertical links down to the Science and Conservation Advisory Group and network; tourism working group, other working groups, coordination of Local Authority activities and links to statutory plans; and, links to community partnerships and community planning programmes. The flagship theme for the whole World Heritage site is ‘The walk through time’ (see later for more detail on these).

In relation to visitor centres in general there traditionally has been a multiplicity of partners involved with their development and they are funded by charities, regional agencies, through HLF bids and local government partnerships. According to an interviewee, ‘the free market works for many tourist concerns, but there is little evidence so far that any of the cultural organisations have the potential to stand on their own feet without some support although they clearly improve what is on offer in the environment for tourists and locals’.

Some Key Existing Interpretation Facilities


At Swanage there is a local authority-run heritage centre and museum – working in partnership with the Swanage Museum who occupy half the building. This has been up-graded this year with HLF money. Kimmeridge, Charmouth and Beer have heritage centres with a more ‘scientific feel’ and are all based on the coast and funded by the Fine Foundation. There is also a heritage centre on the Weld Estate at Lulworth Cove which ‘does history as well as the natural sciences’.

There is a visitor centre at Durlston Castle and a heritage centre further along at Lulworth Cove. Weymouth and Portland both have museums; there is also a museum at Bridport and Lyme Regis and a Heritage Centre at Charmouth (on the beach and focusing on fossil interpretation). Thus there are a number of visitor centres already in existence and most of these have grown up organically over the years through trusts and local authority support.

3) Visitor Characteristics and use of the area

According to one interviewee, ‘the tourist base is pretty varied with a significant amount of C1s in the summer – car ownership and an interest in the world – especially to improve their kids lot in life. Probably a bit more C2 in the Weymouth area with it’s caravan parks and ‘kiss me quick’ reputation. Lyme (Jane Austen connections etc) has a more up-market visitor profile – clearly a market for As and Bs too – no doubt some of whom own second houses making housing unaffordable for local people…’

In terms of accessibility, the road network of Devon and Dorset is prone to congestion during the peak season – an issue that currently is being addressed in Local Transport Plans for the counties. Rail provides some key access points to the area, and there are regional airports at Exeter and Bornemouth. There is a Jurassic Coast bus service which was established in 1998 and runs between Exeter and Wareham, and usage of this has grown steadily, almost doubling between 2000 and 2003. There are also examples of water transport which is the best way to appreciate the geology and scenic coastline from Beer, Lyme Regis, Exmouth and Bournemouth.
Cultural and artistic events and specific packages (e.g. Charmouth Heritage Centre’s fossil hunting weekends and Portland’s Sculpture and Quarry Trust’s Sculpture weeks) have been identified as important draws for tourists that are specifically linked to the areas’ identity.
In relation to types of holidays, market segmentation undertaken by Tourism Company (2003) found the following proportions of visitors:
Domestic long holidays = 24% of holiday visits to the south west

Domestic short breaks:

- pre-family = 22% of all short breaks taken in the south-west


    • family = 17% of short breaks in south west

    • post-family = 28% of short breaks in south west

Overseas visitors = 6% of current tourism in the region

Activities and special interest activities made up 18% of UK holidays in 2001.

Key activities identified were walking (short strolls to national trails); cycling; watersports and coastal pursuits; and special interest geo-tourism. The area is used by educational groups (including further and higher education groups); primary and secondary school groups; business tourists and day visitors.

The Jurassic Coast is said to be ‘being held up as a role mode’ for World Heritage sites.


4) Key attractions within the area


The Tourism Company (2003) has identified attractions along the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site that interpret the area, including those that include geology or fossils as a theme and those that feature the products of the coast such as stone. Fifty attractions were identified that provide interpretation of the JCWHS, including museums, wildlife reserves, galleries and exhibitions, and caves. The Tourism Company stated that, ‘many of these attractions play an important role locally although few act as major draws in terms of pulling in large numbers of visitors. The exceptions are Lulworth Heritage Centre, Durlston Country Park and Visitor Centre and Stuart Line Cruises’ (p.27). Natural features such as Lulworth Cove and beaches in Devon and Dorset are key draws for visitors.

5) Sustainability of Centres within the area

The proposal to develop more heritage centres through World Heritage Site designation, for example, at Exmouth and Lyme Regis, which is being strategically considered, has provoked some tension. The key questions posed by one interviewee are, ‘how will these be sustainable?’ and ‘who will meet the operational costs?’ One strong opinion is that the organic route makes more sense in terms of ensuring the long-term viability of visitor and education centres since it harnesses local knowledge and centres develop more gradually in response to demand and use. For example, fossils are a key feature for coastal visitors to Charmouth and so there is a well-established and traditionally well-used fossil identification centre right on the coast. At Swanage there is a small local authority-run heritage centre and also a museum that have now been located close together. At Lyme Regis, where affluent visitors are catered for, the aim is to develop a cultural quarter and a new heritage centre which could result in some conflicts (for further information approach Lyme Regis Town Council or West Dorset District Council).

At present the existing centres offer many different experiences and types of information. An interviewee stated, ‘Centres on the coast use the full range of interpretative media as would befit organisations appreciating people learn differently. The heritage centres often major on family activities, fossil walks, rock pooling, bird-watching etc. Many have displays and objects, as of course do all the museums’. Most centres on the coast are staffed by a mixture of paid staff and volunteers which was described as being ‘very much the West Country model’.
It was stated that, for all centres, their sustainability depends on receiving continued funding from visitors and stake-holders, be they charities, regional agencies or local government. Currently, there is a set of institutions that has grown up organically to meet local needs/desires. This means that they are somewhat piece-meal, but operationally viable – ‘bottom up development as it were... We are now approaching a phase where we are considering development from the top – so issues of sustainability will need to be resolved’.

6) Future developments proposed

Projects that describe the aspiration for interpretation of the JCWHS are divided into site-wide projects that aim to relate the story of the whole World Heritage Site (e.g. Official Guide), or will be common actions implemented along the length of the site (e.g. static panels); and, site-specific projects that draw significantly on their location for the interpretation messages they are telling, and might interpret a variety of complementary messages, including the story of the whole World Heritage Site. The aim of the Interpretation Action Plan is to outline, ‘the long-term vision for effective, accessible and sustainable interpretation of the World Heritage Site……it sets out a range of projects that, if achieved, would enable everybody to interpret for themselves the stories that make the Jurassic Coast both so important and globally unique, and to see how these stories fit into the broader picture of landscape, biodiversity and local history and culture.’ The idea is that the combination of projects will allow the story and aspects of the Whole World Heritage Site to be explored in many different ways, and specific localised stories to be told in more detail.

Primary and secondary themes have been identified, for example ‘Worlds of the Dinosaurs: Fossils and Past Environments’; Geology and the Landscape’; ‘Stories of Stone’; ‘Transport and Geography’, to name a few. The priority audience has been identified as a ‘lay audience’ defined as families with children between 7 and 14. Also, a priority is to ensure that interpretation is accessible to all, especially groups with special needs. It is also seen as important to enhance provision for groups who are all-year-round visitors including older couples; walkers; people with interests in the coast’s geology; international visitors and educational (A-level and above) and industry training audiences. Thus facilities must be open and attractive all year with more mass appeal over the summer and more specialist appeal during the winter. There are physical interpretation projects such as exhibitions; interpretation panels; gateway town signs; and, virtual interpretation means such as the website and interactive Jurassic Coast DVD; and, experiential interpretation such as arts; festivals; walks and lectures and site-specific projects.

Site-specific projects include: new proposed Jurassic Coast interpretation centre at Exmouth; new visitor facility on East Devon Pebblebed Heaths at Budleigh Salterton; Otterton Mill as space for arts and exhibitions; landowner-led development at Ladram Bay Holiday Park (popular existing attraction); enhancement at Norman Lockyer Observatory at Sidmouth; a new permanent building at Beer Village Heritage Centre; facility enhancement at Beer Quarry Caves (that must be bat-friendly); a proposed new interpretation facility at Seaton and Axe Valley World Heritage Coast Centre; Furhter development of Seaton Museum’s collections; extension to Lyme Regis museum; Lyme Regis Cultural Quarter Project (new) which would redevelop Lyme’s maritime theatre; a renovated or new Field Studies Centre at Lyme Regis; renovation and extension of Charmouth Heritage Centre (key for hands-on fossil-hunting); development of a fossil exhibition in West Dorset as a key attraction; expansion of Dorset County Museum; proposed development of a visitor centre at Weymouth Pavilion – the biggest coastal gateway town; extension to Chesil Beach Centre which is a small-scale existing facility focusing on the Fleet ecosystem, bird life and Chesil Beach; upgrade of Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre to make it an information hub for Swanage and Purbeck.; and, Durlston Castle Project (a country park that attracts 40,000 visitors per year which is directly on South West coast path trail – expansion of castle centre for interpretation of wildlife and history, arts exhibitions and conference programmes purposes). The developments will be implemented via the World Heritage Team; East Devon AONB team; Dorset Countryside and Dorset AONB Team; World Heritage Coast Trust and the private sector. Site-specific interpretation will be delivered by local authorities; landowners; existing visitor centres and museums; promoters; private sector service providers and community groups.

C) Aberdeenshire


This case study area was chosen, because it includes visitor centres under different ownerships and mixed management regimes in areas with various ‘designations’ that can be accessed by day trippers from a major conurbation, the City of Aberdeen (population in excess of 200,000). Two of the centres currently attract relatively small numbers of visitors (around 5,000 per annum), but the numbers are growing. The other two centres attract 20,000 and 40,000 visitors per year whist the hill range at Bennachie attracts 120,000 visitors a year. Two of the centres are located on the coast (to the south and north of Aberdeen) and two are inland, the Forvie NNR includes the river Ythan estuary.

1) Characteristics of the area

Forvie National Nature Reserve

Forvie National Nature Reserve (c. 1000 hectares) incorporates areas designated as SSSI, SPA, SAC and a Ramsar site. This is a large, undisturbed sand dune system with mobile dunes progressing to dune heath. Ythan Estuary is part of the River Ythan Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) with extensive mudflats attracting tens of thousands of waders and wildfowl each year. Forvie SAC is a good example of coastal lichen-rich dune heath, with Crowberry, Heather and Marram predominating. Forvie has the largest breeding colony of Eider Duck in UK, 4 species of Tern nest in dunes including Little Tern (Schedule 1 of Wildlife & Countryside Act, UK) and the cliffs attract nesting seabirds. The reserve is located 16 miles/20km north of Aberdeen City. Situated between the Rivers Dee and Don, Aberdeen is Scotland's third largest city and 'Oil Capital' with a population in excess of 200,000. Local centres of population near the reserve include the villages of Collieston and Newburgh and the nearest town is Ellon.

Forvie traditionally was used for shooting grouse and partridge; farming was never intensive due to the sandy soil. Shooting ended after the NNR was established in 1959. Salmon netting on the beach ceased in 2000, but was a profitable business for many years until that point. The military used Forvie as artillery range in both World Wars. Prehistory is evident on the NNR from Bronze Age remains, a neolithic site with worked flints, the medieval village of Forvie now buried under sand, but the remains of Forvie Kirk were excavated in the 1950s. SNH purchased the land mass of Forvie NNR in 2003 from a private estate. The present day focus is for wildlife conservation, increasing awareness of the natural heritage and managing responsible recreation and access.


St Cyrus National Nature Reserve:

NNR and part of St Cyrus and Kinnaber Links SSSI. The site is designated for a number of rare wildflowers and insects, many of them at their northern limit in Britain, and for over 65 species of breeding birds. The reserve includes dunes grassland, old saltmarsh and 200ft basaltic relict sea cliffs. The area has been used by salmon fishermen (stake netting) for the past 200 years. There are several ice houses and old fishing bothies still on the reserve. It is situated one mile from St Cyrus village, population 500; 5 miles north of Montrose (population less than10,000); 20 miles south of Stonehaven (population less than10,000); and 30 miles south of Aberdeen.



Bennachie

Bennachie is the best known and most climbed hill range in North East Scotland. The hill has nine distinctive tops, Oxen Craig is the highest top at 528m. The habitat on the hill is varied from conifer and broadleaf woodland to open moorland. Bennachie is a steeply rising ridge about eight miles long by four miles across and is at least four hundred million years old made of granite that has been eroded smooth by the ice age and wind and rain, it is capped with Craigs and Tors. The hill is a geological SSSI and the Bennachie range is prominent because it is surrounded by lowland and can be approached by car from all sides. It is a popular destination with one hundred and twenty thousand visitors per year. There is growth in the commuter towns around the hill and most of this is attributable to the oil industry. The centre is on the road between Chapel of Garioch and Blairdaff and is accessible from the Inverurie by-pass (A96).


Huntly Peregrine Wildwatch Visitor Centre (The Bin Forest) Wild Woods.

This is the only site of its kind (an SSSI quarry) in North East Scotland and is located three miles northwest of Huntly. A walk follows the forest road to SSSI quarry and hide, with views of surrounding countryside. The forest road goes through a birch plantation of both young and mature trees and the centre is situated on main Aberdeen/Inverness trunk road - the A96. The bus can drop off visitors along the A96, but there is no formal bus stop; there are train stations in both Huntly (rural farming town) and Keith.


2) Visitor characteristics and use of area


Regarding the broad visitor profile for the region, in 2003, 54% of UK tourist trips to Aberdeen and Grampian were taken for holiday purposes, 26% for business reasons and 17% were for visiting family and relatives. Thirty nine percent of overseas tourist trips to Aberdeen and Grampian were taken for holiday purposes, 26% for business reasons and 30% were visiting family and relatives. Overseas tourists were most likely to come from USA (25%) and Germany (14%). The majority of UK holiday visitors to the area took part in an activity during their visit: walking (34%); visiting castles, monuments and churches etc. (32%); visiting museums, galleries (23%); and swimming (23%). Overseas holiday-makers were also likely to visit heritage sites (i.e. castles, monuments, churches etc.) (83%); museums, galleries etc. (58%); or, take part in hiking/walking (39%) whilst in Scotland. Sixteen percent of UK visitors to Aberdeen and Grampian participated in field or nature study. A large proportion (67%) of UK tourist trips to Aberdeen and Grampian were made by car. Whilst the average stay for UK tourists is 3.5 nights, visitors from overseas spend an average of seven nights in the area. There is a strong seasonal aspect to visits with guest house and B&B room occupancy being highest from May to September (around 50%), with a peak of 67% in August.

47.7m leisure day visits (expenditure £506m) and 12.9m tourism day visits (expenditure £259m) were taken in Aberdeen and Grampian which accounted for around 13% of all day visits taken in Scotland. There was a high incidence of UK visitors revisiting Scotland: 86% had already stayed overnight in the area at some point in the previous five years. Within the UK market, 62% of trips were taken by Scottish residents and 37% of visitors were English. (www.scotexchange.net)

81% of visitors to Aberdeen and Grampian who were pursuing nature study/watching used the car as their main method of transport and 3% came on coach tours. This is probably due to fact that nature study tends to involve visiting rural and remote areas which are less accessible by public transport. Nature study holiday-makers tended to be between 45 and 64 (57%) and in the ABC1 social class (80%).


Forvie National Nature Reserve:

The most frequent visitor type is the dog walker from the immediate and local area (the dogs must be kept on leads), followed by recreational visitors from the local area and Aberdeen. Family groups are common at weekends and during holidays. Organised parties of walkers or interest groups occasionally visit. Education groups from pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education also visit. The southern part of the site is closed to the public from April to August each year to protect the breeding terns.

There is a large car park with access to the NNR and lay-bys overlooking the Ythan Estuary are located on the A975. There is a rural bus link service from Aberdeen which is 12 miles south of the site. There is an hourly bus service from Monday to Saturday, but it runs infrequently on Sunday. The buses stop on the A975 at the car park, or 1mile/3km from Forvie Centre.

St Cyrus National Nature Reserve:

Locals from St Cyrus/Montrose visit all the year round, mostly to walk their dogs. Some specialists visit from Stonehaven, Aberdeen and further afield for botany, ornithology, entomology, and/or geology. The majority of winter visitors are dog walkers who come to exercise their pets rather than specifically to appreciate the reserve. The majority of summer visitors are family groups from outside the local area, including many English and foreign visitors. The reserve is located six miles north of Montrose, off the A92 road. It is on the bus route from Montrose-Stonehaven and from Aberdeen. There is a one mile walk to the reserve from the bus stop. There are also train stations in Stonehaven and Montrose (on the east coast of Scotland main line service).


Bennachie

75%of visitors are local to Aberdeenshire. Key settlements include Inverurie, Oldmeldrum, Insch, Alford and also the City of Aberdeen. The nearest bus stop is five miles away (Pitcaple) and the train station is even further away (Inverurie or Insch), some six miles, which restricts Bennachie’s visitor profile as access is almost exclusively by private transport i.e. not by more ‘green’ means.


Huntly Peregrine Wildwatch

The split of visitors to this reserve is roughly: Local visitors 30%, Schools 30%, Tourists 30%, and in 2005 there were a little over 4,500 visitors, but as awareness is growing so are visitor numbers.


3) Key attractions within the catchment area


The top three free visitor attractions in Aberdeen and Grampian in 2003 were: The David Welch Winter Gardens, Aberdeen (294,324 visits); Baxters Highland Village, Fochabers (205,890 visits); Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen (187,858 visits). The top three visitor attractions charging entry were: Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire (107,423 visits); Storybook Glen Ltd, Aberdeen (89,686 visits); Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire (77,929 visits).

Near St.Cyrus the Scottish Wildlife Trust Montrose Basin has wetland bird watching, but there are limited walking opportunities outside the centre. Other attractions include: Mill of Benholm - cultural heritage of the mill; Grassic Gibbon Centre - cultural heritage of poet/writer/bard Lewis Grassic Gibbon; Montrose Museum - general cultural heritage and natural heritage of the area (not specific to St Cyrus NNR, nor as specialised).

Near Forvie there are local nature reserves, country parks and places of interest to wildlife enthusiasts including properties run by local authority, RSPB, National Trust for Scotland. However, they are not National Nature Reserves nor do they carry the same natural heritage designations, or include the same habitat or dune system.

Near Bennachie there is Archeaolink which focuses on the pre-history of the area and is situated at Oyne near the historic site of ‘Berry Hill’ and close to the Old Aberdeen Turnpike.


Located close to Huntly is the Falconry Centre, a private enterprise (one mile); Glenlivit distillery (13 miles) which includes guided tours and whisky tasting; and the Bennachie centre.

4) Further detail on visitor centres and their sustainability




Name of visitor centre

Stevenson Forvie Centre

Description of location

Forvie National Nature Reserve


Age of centre

8 years

Ownership of centre

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)

Management arrangements


Managed by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Staffing/resourcing


SNH, as a public body, is primarily funded by the Scottish Executive, but also by charitable donations. Currently there are two full time members of staff, one part-time seasonal member of staff with several volunteers involved in day-to-day management. The Centre is not guaranteed to be staffed during the publicised opening hours. Enquiries are handled only if staff are present in the office next to the visitor centre, or have arranged for a staff member to accompany a visit. The Visitor Centre is open daily between April to October, otherwise by request.

Purpose(s) of the centre and who it caters for


The centre provides environmental information and description of the NNR, including interpretation: there is a display of artefacts found from archaeological sites, literature available, and reference materials related to the natural heritage. The centre also offers classroom use for educational visits or training courses.

Description of visitor centre user groups and level of use by each

The aim is for at least twenty education groups using the centre each year (twenty four groups used it in 2005). The visitor centre counter recorded 4,169 visitors in 2005, split between: family groups (the majority), recreational users of the NNR and education visits.

Promotion and marketing of centre and the way in which it promote the area in which it is located?


The centre is promoted via the Website, leaflet, Visit Scotland Tourist Attraction (awaiting assessment), Green Business Tourism Award Scheme, press releases, posters advertising events in local area.

Description of the centre and facilities/information on offer.


The centre contains information about Forvie NNR, waymarked trails and wildlife along with other other general natural heritage and environmental information. The information is displayed through notice boards, leaflets and formal interpretation. There is:

  • A foyer area with notice boards and informal interpretation, aquarium with rock pool animals, leaflets and boxes with natural objects for handling.

  • A main display area with formal interpretation panels on walls, feely boxes, large floor jigsaws, archaeological finds in a display case, wildlife reference books, leaflets and literature.

  • Two public WC (male & female/disabled/babychanging).

  • A classroom area behind removable partition wall with tables, chairs, video/DVD and TV.



Name of visitor centre

St Cyrus National Nature Reserve

Description of location

St Cyrus NNR

Age of centre

Building constructed: 1880’s, originally opened as a visitor centre: 1989, major refurbishment and upgrading in 2004 costing circa £120k. £10k spent on resource interpretation; £40k spent on car park grant aided by SNH £23k.

Ownership of centre

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)

Management arrangements


The reserve is managed and two thirds owned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) (government agency). The remaining third privately owned, but is managed by SNH under a Nature Reserve Agreement.

Staffing/resourcing


The centre is staffed as follows: 1 permanent reserve manager, 1 seasonal site officer, 1 permanent estate worker 1 day/week, 1 cleaner, 3 honorary wardens, and volunteers. The centre is unmanned, but the SNH office is next door if the public have any specific requests or need more information. The visitor centre and toilets are open daily (April to October) and Monday to Friday (November to March).

Purpose(s) of the centre and who it caters for


The centre provides information on responsible access; purpose of the reserve (to help educate and inform the public to help them get more out of their visit); the history of the reserve; special species and landforms present. It is also used as a base for environmental education group visits (primary, secondary and tertiary education); information on neighbouring attractions.

Description of visitor centre user groups and level of use by each

User groups are: locals (negligible); regional (moderate use); tourist including regional, national and foreign (moderate/heavy); specialist (slight); educational (moderate). Dog fouling is getting out of control so interpretation has been tailored to influence dog walkers and dog waste bins are provided.

Promotion and marketing of centre and the way in which it promote the area in which it is located?


The centre is promoted via the SNH website, Grampian Care Data website, Visit Scotland website and accreditation, Green Tourist Board website and accreditation, leaflets in TIC’s and other visitor attractions and road signage.

Description of the centre and facilities/information on offer.


The centre is a former lifeboat station. There is a large room with open roof space and a mezzanine floor to viewing area. The main room has a central enclosed pod housing an AV display with seating for twelve; it features static displays, an aquarium, remote camera for viewing the reserve, leaflets etc., species lists, audio visual display, and temporary displays (from both SNH and other organisations).

Name of visitor centre

Bennachie Visitor Centre

Description of location
Bennachie hill range

Age of centre

11years

Ownership of centre

Aberdeenshire Council

Management arrangements

Centre is managed by the Bennachie Centre Trust - Aberdeenshire Council, FCS, SNH, and private estate landowners. The building stands on ground leased from Forest Enterprise. The building and staffing costs are met by Aberdeenshire Council, whilst the Internal displays are the responsibility of the Trust. The centre is closed on Mondays, opening times are 10.30am-5pm April-September, then 9.30am-4pm October-March.

Staffing/resourcing


There are two part time wardens (one full-time equivalent). It is also the base for the area ranger (part of Aberdeenshire Council’s Ranger Service). All staff are employed by Aberdeenshire Council. The centre was recently refurbished (£250,000) paid for by a combination of Heritage Lottery Fund, Bailies of Bennachie (a local conservation organisation with over 5,000 members worldwide), SNH, Council, FCS, Prince’s Trust, private estates (Pitoddie) and public donation. This was part of a five year one million project that included improving the path network as well as changing the way space inside the centre was used.

Purpose(s) of the centre and who it caters for


The centre was set up in Scots Pine Forest on the lower slopes of Bennachie to explain the social and natural history of the area. It is both an orientation point and interpretation centre for the hill. It is also a base for the Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service

Description of visitor centre user groups and level of use by each


There are over 40,000 visitors a year. The Ranger Service runs a programme of events throughout the year for both schools and visitors. Visitors vary seasonally, but are generally made up of school/university/college groups for formal education (spring/summer); Baden Powell organisation (all year); walkers and ramblers groups (all year); and those attending meetings. The main aims of the Bailies are to conserve, promote and record the social and natural history of Bennachie and to safeguard the hill for future generations.

Promotion and marketing of centre and the way in which it promote the area in which it is located?


No active marketing has taken place historically, but a booklet of the Ranger Service events is available at local libraries and Tourist Information Centres.

Description of the centre and facilities/information on offer.

The centre includes: a staff office and kitchen, a main display hall with social history, natural history and forestry sections; one multi–purpose room (for school use, meetings etc.), a small shop area (for drinks, tee shirts, maps, postcards, videos, branded ties and scarves etc.) and a welcome desk. There is interpretation on the social and natural history of Bennachie which comprises display panels, low-tech inter-actives and multi-media. The Bailies of Bennachie have a room in the Centre where they provide access to an extensive local reference book collection and information about their work.


Name of visitor centre

Huntly Peregrine Wildwatch

Description of location
Quarry site in the Bin Forest, Huntly

Age of centre

3 years

Ownership of centre

Forestry Commission Scotland

Management arrangements


Forestry Commission Scotland

Staffing/resourcing


There is one senior warden (4 days per week), wardens 3 days per week and volunteers. The centre is open very day 9.30am – 5.30 p.m. from April to the end of August. The centre received Heritage Lottery Grant and monies from Scottish Natural Heritage. There is a also a partnership arrangement with Farqhuars of Huntly for the portacabin and toilets

Purpose(s) of the centre and who it caters for

The centre caters for wildlife watching and aims to raise the awareness of the life-cycles, habits and threats to Peregrine falcons as well as enabling people to understand more about other wildlife that can be seen on the site. It is particularly useful for primary and secondary education or those looking into scientific research as the Peregrine activities are well

documented and there is the possibility of monitoring small birds.

Description of visitor centre user groups and level of use by each


Local Visitors 30%, Schools 30%, Tourists 30%

Monthly Totals




 

2003

2004

2005

Apr

 

432

461

May

155

519

795

June

299

788

1112

July

585

1081

1216


Aug

439

587

988

Sept

100

 

 

Totals

1578

3407

4572

The table above shows how the visitor numbers to the centre have grown quite dramatically over the past few years and peak in July.

Peak visiting time during the day is between 2-3pm.


Promotion and marketing of centre and the way in which it promotes the area in which it is located?


The centre is promoted via leaflets, posters and adverts and signposts on the main road as well as through local and regional press, and local directories

Description of the centre and facilities/information on offer.

A large car park houses the visitor centre and toilets (disabled facilities). The centre itself is a portacabin with a mock up of the quarry face and CCTV monitors showing images from close up cameras in a quarry of Peregrines on their eyrie, scrape or elsewhere on the quarry face. There are wardens and volunteers who can directly help and answer questions as well as display boards in the centre with further information on Peregrines and other wildlife on site. There is a ‘feely box’ to give visitor involvement and a work station where captured film highlights from 2004 are running continuously as well as an interactive computer when required. Owl pellets displayed for visitors to examine and a microscope. There is also a hide on site that over looks the quarry and people can watch wildlife using either a telescope or binoculars. An ascending path links the portacabin with the top hide. On routes there is a ‘fire’ pond (90 years old) and stream that is heavily used by visitors for pond dipping and wildlife watching.

5. Sustainability of centres within the area

Forvie




Factor

Explanation of role in long term sustainability of centre

SNH owned and managed

The Centre is publicly owned and managed and features in SNH’s plans for NNRs over the next 6-10 years. ‘Flagship’ NNRs e.g. Forvie, are to become places where educational activities are to be encouraged, as well as projects that increase local community involvement. Not run as a profit-making business, so competition is not an issue.



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