The Wessex Portal and the Dorset Coast Digital Archive: Promoting a better understanding of the unique natural environment and heritage assets
The Wessex Portal was created three years ago as an online community to promote the environmental and heritage assets of the region. The purpose of the website is to highlight work undertaken in Wessex and allow a platform to promote events, volunteering and job opportunities with key stakeholders. The geographical extent of the Wessex region is a matter of debate but the modern counties included are Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Isle of Wight, Devon and Berkshire. The homepage is divided into the following categories:
News: Up-to-date information on environment and heritage issues worldwide but especially within the Wessex region and the UK.
Showcase: Highlights the work that Bournemouth University students and staff undertake in the Wessex region.
Bulletin: Promotes regional events, jobs and opportunities available within the nature and heritage industry such as wildlife trusts.
Public engagement: Promoting the work that Bournemouth University is involved in, within the community and events that BU hosts. There are some exciting events promoted by the portal, such as the conference ‘Embedding Citizen Science into Wildlife Conservation Management’; ‘Maritime Archaeology Conference’ as well as the ‘Festival of Learning’.
Alongside the website, The Wessex Portal promotes the content to a wider audience using social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Mailchimp. These sites are regularly updated in order to engage and reach out to the public and reach out to the local community.
Dorset Coast Digital Archive
The Dorset Coast Digital Archive (DCDA) is part of the Wessex Portal. The DCDA is an extensive archive of photographs, newspaper articles, aerial images and historical maps of the Dorset coast as far back as 1740. The aim of the DCDA is to showcase this archive and ask members of the public to contribute their own photos to this collection. This work is a centrepiece for knowledge exchange on how areas have developed over time through a visual representation.
The following images show a sample of the diversity of photos, drawings and maps within the archive:
This development could potentially help support public access to BU research activities and support BU’s outreach to our local community. The Faculty of Science and Technology is leading the project, where developments have been made on the formatting the images for the web archive. The archive will promote information and an understanding of how the Dorset coast has changed over time, including how the coastal morphology has evolved, how biodiversity has changed, and how society and settlements have developed.
Through support of HEIF 5 + 1 funding, it will be possible to fully develop the archive and make it available on internet. The archive will also be a valuable teaching tool. The current stage of the project involves categorising over 3000 images to make them available to the general public in the very near future.