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40th Anniversary of the North Wessex Downs!

40th Anniversary

In 1972 the lovely landscape of the North Wessex Downs was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

To mark our 40th anniversary this year, we’re organising a range of events including a photo competition, a travelling exhibition and a market celebrating the North Wessex Downs and all it has to offer. More details in the next e-bulletin or keep an eye on our website.

Highlights of 2010-2011

Our Annual Review 2010-2011 is now online featuring the breadth of work we have been doing to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the North Wessex Downs and achieve the objectives set out in our Management Plan. Here are a few highlights of the year:

  • Distributed a record £58,365.41 to support 26 projects from our Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) which levered £157,604.09 of match funding. That’s an injection of £215,969.50 to AONB communities.
  • Worked in partnership to initiate the £7.5 million 1SW cycling project which is making participating South West Protected Landscapes world class off-road cycling destinations.
  • In partnership with South East Protected Landscapes, secured £990,000 from DEFRA for Stage 2 of our collaborative project, Our Land, to promote sustainable tourism.
  • Responded with comments on 311 planning application consultations.
  • Contributed to 11 parish and town plans, including funding publication of two of them.

See the full Annual Review online

Marlborough Downs NIA success

Our ‘Big Chalk’ bid to be one of the first Nature Improvement Areas proposed in last year’s Natural Environment White paper made it into the last 15 but, along with the Hampshire Farmers Linking Landscapes bid, ultimately failed to be selected as one of the first 12 NIAs.

We are however delighted that the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (NIA) was successful. This is predominantly a farmer-led partnership looking to restore chalk and grassland habitats and increase the numbers of farmland birds as well as creating a network of traditional clay-lined dewponds to act as wildlife havens in the north of the AONB. We have been advising the partnership on their bid and hope to work closely with all the farmers involved. With welcome support from Natural England, the Big Chalk partners have been considering how to take forward the range of activities and objectives proposed under the NIA bid. See future e-bulletins for more developments.

Read more about the 12 selected NIAs

New AONB advisors

We are delighted to welcome nine new Advisory Members to our Council of Partners representing various interests:

  • Nature Conservation - Charles Flower
  • Parish and Community - Carole Ruse, Bryan Castle, Dennis Gower
  • Farming and Rural Business – Dr Joanne Smith, Lois Philipps
  • Historic Environment - Nicholas Fogg
  • Recreation and Rural Tourism – Denise Dane, Meg Chambers

Find out more about the Council of Partners and see the full list of representatives.

North Wessex Farmland Bird Projects....two become one!

From 1st April, the SE and SW halves of the North Wessex Downs Farmland Bird Project have joined forces. Diane Nicolle, who was North Wessex Farmland Bird Advisor for the SE project and is based in our offices in Hungerford, will now cover the whole AONB. If you farm anywhere in the North Wessex Downs AONB or the immediate vicinity and would like advice on environmental stewardship or other ways of helping the farmland birds on your farm, please get in touch and Diane will be pleased to help. Contact Diane Nicolle on 07540 013152 or diane.nicolle@rspb.org.uk.

Shrinking budgets

Our core grant from national government is falling by more than 26 per cent over four years, so for the second year running we have cut our core and SDF budgets by just over five per cent. The 2012-13 budget is therefore £341,290.77 which is £22,088.20 down on last year. Unfortunately, we have had to cut the SDF budget to £45,000 but this is still much larger than many other AONBs. In addition, we have also managed to retain a small projects budget for the year ahead as well as a small allocation to help us mark the 40th anniversary of the AONB’s designation.

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Some dates for your diary

APRIL  
12th Spring Flowers in our Woodlands - evening talk by Charles Flower followed by a practical workshop in a local wood. 7.30pm, St Nicholas Church Hall, Newbury. More info visit www.westberkscountryside.org.uk.
22nd Flock Around the Rocks - Join the National Trust Rangers and our own Farmland Bird Advisor Diane Nicolle for a guided walk in the morning followed by activities such as making nest boxes and bird feeders. Call 01672 539250.
28th Building Stronger Communities Conference - learn about social media, making the most of community assets, funding advise and much more. 10am-3pm, Newbury College, call 07966 236408 to book.
29th Walk in an Ancient Landscape - Join Dick Greenaway on a six-mile walk to look at the landscape, wildlife and history of Ashampstead parish. 11am, car park at Childs Court Farm SU575 751. More info visit www.westberkscountryside.org.uk.
MAY  
1st Come and see us at The Wiltshire Diamond Jubilee event - Medieval Fair, Salisbury Cathedral grounds in the Marlborough Area Board tent. 10am-5.15pm.
6th A Stroll around Ashampstead Common - Join Dick Greenaway for a two-mile stroll to look at the veteran trees, wildlife and archaeology of this ancient deer park. 10.30am, car park at Childs Court Farm SU575 751. More info www.westberkscountryside.org.uk.
19th-21st and 26th-27th Oxfordshire Artweeks - featuring the ‘Icons of the North Wessex Downs’ original paintings we commissioned from Anna Dillon. 12am-6pm, Heathersage, Aston Street, Aston Tirrold, Didcot, OX11 9DJ.

If you have an event in the North Wessex Downs that you would like us to mention, please email katiewilson@northwessexdowns.org.uk.

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Some dates for your diary

APRIL  
12th Spring Flowers in our Woodlands - evening talk by Charles Flower followed by a practical workshop in a local wood. 7.30pm, St Nicholas Church Hall, Newbury. More info visit www.westberkscountryside.org.uk.
22nd Flock Around the Rocks - Join the National Trust Rangers and our own Farmland Bird Advisor Diane Nicolle for a guided walk in the morning followed by activities such as making nest boxes and bird feeders. Call 01672 539250.
28th Building Stronger Communities Conference - learn about social media, making the most of community assets, funding advise and much more. 10am-3pm, Newbury College, call 07966 236408 to book.
29th Walk in an Ancient Landscape - Join Dick Greenaway on a six-mile walk to look at the landscape, wildlife and history of Ashampstead parish. 11am, car park at Childs Court Farm SU575 751. More info visit www.westberkscountryside.org.uk.
MAY  
1st Come and see us at The Wiltshire Diamond Jubilee event - Medieval Fair, Salisbury Cathedral grounds in the Marlborough Area Board tent. 10am-5.15pm.
6th A Stroll around Ashampstead Common - Join Dick Greenaway for a two-mile stroll to look at the veteran trees, wildlife and archaeology of this ancient deer park. 10.30am, car park at Childs Court Farm SU575 751. More info www.westberkscountryside.org.uk.
19th-21st and 26th-27th Oxfordshire Artweeks - featuring the ‘Icons of the North Wessex Downs’ original paintings we commissioned from Anna Dillon. 12am-6pm, Heathersage, Aston Street, Aston Tirrold, Didcot, OX11 9DJ.

If you have an event in the North Wessex Downs that you would like us to mention, please email katiewilson@northwessexdowns.org.uk.

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And finally...

Help eradicate toxic moth

Become a volunteer lock keeper

Watch this video on the threat of the oak processionary moth to trees and woods around Pangbourne, West Berkshire and why we need to eradicate it. www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-16770346. Our SDF is helping fund eradication work in the AONB.

If you spot the caterpillar, DO NOT touch it as it can cause a severe itchy reaction. Instead, please report any sightings to Forest Research, part of the Forestry Commission, on 01420 22255.

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The North Wessex Downs AONB Team:

Oliver Cripps, acting Assistant Director
Andrew Lord, Planning Advisor
Diane Nicolle, North Wessex Farmland Birds Advisor
Henry Oliver, Director
Katie Wilson, Communications Officer
Corinna Woodall, Leader Programme Manager

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