Category Archives: landscape management

EXMOOR LAUNCHES NEW PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

Exmoor National Park’s future vision for the next five years was launched today, welcomed by Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Defra Minister for National Parks, in a video address at the Exmoor National Park Authority and Exmoor Society’s joint Spring Conference held in Dulverton Town Hall.

Exmoor National Park’s 2018-2023 Partnership Plan* has been led by Exmoor National Park Authority, with input from around 80 partners, landowners, local communities, organisations and businesses, through a rigorous programme of workshops and meetings. Opinions were also sought through a public survey and key evidence on the Park’s special qualities gathered through the State of the Park Report.

Under the core themes of ‘People, Place, Prosperity’, the Plan sets out key strategies needed to ensure Exmoor’s diverse and beautiful landscapes remain rich in wildlife and history, and that people everywhere have the opportunity to enjoy its special qualities. It also highlights the need to foster a vibrant local economy for Exmoor’s communities by providing new routes for innovation and entrepreneurship, and for increasing rural productivity.

Key priorities include a commitment to maintaining Exmoor as a working living landscape, with farming at its core. Increasing rural productivity through targeted land management schemes, and support to help new and young farmers diversify their farming income and develop rural skills form a vital part of the strategy. This interaction between people and nature has persisted for centuries and is crucial to maintaining the rich array of wildlife and habitats found on Exmoor today.

Increasing opportunities for people to enjoy and get involved in maintaining Exmoor as one of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK is also a mainstay of the Plan. Exmoor’s first rate rights of way network is a shining example of this, with an impressive 96 per cent of routes classed as open and easy to use – the highest of all National Parks.

Work to encourage more people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to enjoy the Park will also continue, following a rise in the number of young people visiting, including over 6,500 students last year alone, and continuing support for local schools through the Authority’s Learning Partners Scheme.

Ensuring local communities thrive through a vibrant local economy is another key ambition. While visitor numbers have been steady over the last five years, the length of time people stay in the park is up by 35 per cent. The report highlights the positive impact this is on the local economy, with the Exmoor tourism industry currently valued at around £115 million.

Challenges for the Park are also addressed, including how best to restore Exmoor’s renowned purple heather moors, which rely on careful management by Exmoor’s hill farmers, along with the Authority and other partners.

In the video address to conference delegates, Lord Gardiner said: “I am delighted to support the launch of the Exmoor National Park Partnership Plan. It sets out an exciting agenda for the next five years.”

Sarah Bryan, chief executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “This Plan is for all those who care about Exmoor: the place, its communities and the benefits the National Park provides to the nation. By providing a framework for working together, we hope it will mean people can continue to be inspired by its extraordinary beauty and sense of place, while supporting those who rely on it for their livelihood to reap the many benefits that National Park status can bring.”

Robin Milton, Chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We are extremely grateful to our many partners for sharing their views and to the more than 900 people who responded to our public opinion survey, showing just how cherished Exmoor is by so many. At this time of substantial political change and uncertainty, we hope this will allow us to capitalise on this unique chance to help shape Exmoor for future generations, whilst continuing to enrich the local economy and landscapes.”

QUANTOCKS IN LINE FOR LOTTERY SUPPORT

A £1.9 million grant to Quantock Hills ‘Reimagining the Manor’ Scheme has been given initial support¹ by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through its Landscape Partnership (LP) programme², it was announced yesterday.

The scheme, developed by the Quantock Hills AONB Team in partnership with South West Heritage Trust, Friends of Quantock and others, aims to inspire the local communities to learn from the centuries of landscape development on the Quantock Hills and undertake a wide range of projects providing resilience and protection of the landscape into the future.

The Quantock Hills are a special place. Their designation in 1956 as England’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was not only for their particular qualities as a natural environment, but also for their remarkable story of human interaction with nature reaching back many thousands of years.   The Quantock Hills landscape is based on a ring of historic estates. These estates have ensured a holistic landscape-scale approach to land management. However, a number of these estates are experiencing changes such as breaking up into smaller farm units, leading to an increasingly fragmented approach to land management.

The ‘Reimagining the Manor’ scheme is made up of over 26 separate projects which aim to work together to

Inspire – engage people in understanding the landscape, its cultural influence and work with communities to understand the pressures and opportunities into the future.

Live – undertake physical works to conserve and enhance the landscape and heritage assets of the Quantock Hills.

Learn – increase knowledge of the Quantock Hills and the role of the estates in the formation of its landscapes.

The scheme will increase interpretation of the Quantock Hills, including historic figures such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Andrew Crosse by linking with local schools, leading walks and village events. Also there will be training available for young people, landowners and local communities in the skills required to enhance the landscape and manage land and assets into the future. There will be a focus on those features that make up the special qualities of the Quantock Hills area such as orchards, hedgerows and parkland trees as well as follies and other built features. Other exciting projects will engage the local communities in capturing the traditions and memories of the Quantock area, as well as training in undertaking heritage investigations to increase knowledge of the pre-historic landscape and how it has changed over time, shaping the landscape we see today.

Iain Porter Project Officer at the Quantock Hills AONB said, “This is the start of a very exciting journey for the Quantock Hills AONB and the surrounding communities, a big thank you to the National Lottery Players for making it all possible. We can’t wait to get the ball rolling with the Reimagining the Manor project. The Quantocks are a living and working landscape and always have been. Although the way we live and manage the land is constantly changing, with this project we want to give people the inspiration, knowledge and skills to move forward but continue to enhance this special landscape and historic environment for future generations to enjoy and love.”

Drew Bennellick, HLF Head of Landscape and Natural Heritage, said: “Across the UK people are increasingly realising that nature is in trouble and it’s time to take a more proactive approach. Schemes like these provide a creative solution to helping people reconnect with landscapes and the environment, to implement solutions at a truly landscape-scale and tackle issues such as soil loss and flooding by supporting partnerships and coalitions of the willing.”

A development grant of £91,300 has been awarded by HLF to enable the Quantock Hills AONB service and others to develop its plans and seek final approval for the full grant amount of £1.9million at a later date.

Photo by Adam Gerrard

QUANTOCKS COUNTRYSIDE TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

Landowners and people living on the Quantock Hills are being offered the chance to widen their skills in how to manage the special and protected landscape.

A series of workshops (the first of which takes place on Monday 7 November) is being arranged this autumn and winter focused on how to manage the land – the hills and surrounding vales – while retaining its distinct character.

The funding has come from West Somerset Council while the project is delivered by the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Service.

The workshops will look at crops in arable farming, orchard planning, planting and management and managing woodland. The sessions are open to landowners, farmers, students and local communities within the Quantock Hills and surrounding vales of Sedgemoor and West Somerset.

Iain Porter, from the Quantock Hills AONB Service, said, “This is a great opportunity for local land managers and communities to learn additional skills that will help them protect this distinctive landscape into the future. Along with other funding and grants available we can see the real positive benefits for landscape and up skilling of our local communities.”

Cllr Karen Mills, Economic Regeneration Lead at West Somerset Council, said: “The workshops cover a range of quite technical subjects in farming and land management. Whilst those already working within the landscape will find them useful for brushing up on their know-how, local communities and those thinking of starting a career in a land-based industry will also find them of interest.

“As well as being part of the local farming industry, our landscapes are an economic driver for tourism. It is essential therefore that local people are able to gain access to the appropriate training to manage their businesses whilst protecting the environment that we all cherish.”

The next workshop takes place on Monday 7 November:

Quantock Resilience Project – Cover Crop Event

Rhode Farm, Bridgwater TA5 2AD
Monday 7 November 2016, 10am (4hrs – FREE)

Guest Speaker Jo Oborn, Resource Protection Specialist

A practical workshop looking at the benefits of cover crop and their role in resource protection, through the reduction of soil erosion and the improvement of soil structure and organic matter.  There will be a presentation followed by a farm walk to look at the us eof cover crop on Rhode Farm.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL CALL 01823 660684 or email info@fwagsw.org.uk

There will also be further workshops on:

  • Farm Resilience – animal health – date to be confirmed
  • Woodlands & Forestry – resilience and management 7 February 2017
  • Orchards – planning, planting & maintenance 25 February 2017

For more information or to book places visit: www.quantockhills.com/events/view