Interpretation boards – Natural England

Natural England were establishing a new nature reserve called ‘Old River Dove’ that is located along the River Dove and near to Uttoxeter. It is an meander cut off from the present course of the river which was created by river engineering in the 1850’s. As a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) they wanted to use interpretation to highlight the key species and history of the site.


Crayfish Design were asked to produce a series of interpretation panels designs to visually show the diversity of the local wildlife; aquatic and emergent plant communities and specifically the range of dragonflies and damselflies. One of the boards was to show the historical changes to the site which included the straightening of the river. They wanted the boards to be visually rich and to include lots of species photographs.


We visited the site to explore and really understand the unique qualities and diversity of wildlife. Seeing everything from the ground level gave us the opportunity to take a wide variety of photographs and to capture a real essence of the site in our designs.

We then worked these together to form panels that used a base image with additional species incorporated. The main panel included a kingfisher perched on a branch, dragonfly nymphs and insects in the reeds, fish in the water, to rabbits and even cattle in the distant fields. This approach gave a rich tapestry to each panel design and something for the viewers to engage with.

The historical panel was a different type of challenge, as there were no illustrations or visual records of the works undertaken. We wanted to show the transition but without any  photographs we need to employ slightly different route. Our solution was to use a representation of the onsite planning using historical items juxtaposed with those from a more modern age, including maps and photos from the site. The change to the course of the river was all hand dug, so we reflected the engineering through a mixture of antique tools and earth works.

To best integrate into the location, each A1 panel was set in angled back lecterns in English Oak allowing viewers to cast their gaze over the river. The panels were produced with Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) boards.


  • Onsite photography
  • Photo manipulation
  • Illustration
  • Design and layout
  • Production management

The theme and subsequent designs incorporated:

  • Theme design and artworking
  • Photo compositioning to create nature scenes
  • On site photography
  • Recreation of new and old maps
  • Production of GRP panels and oak lecterns

What the client said

“Crayfish Design create vibrant, exciting designs that really engage people in the natural environment.”

Jaclyn Lake, Staffordshire Land Management Team, Natural England

Related categories: Infographics and visuals