'My Favourite Places' photo competition
Can you capture the spectacular beauty of the North Wessex Downs?
Don't forget that our 40th anniversary photo competition closes on 31st August so if you would like to be in with a chance of winning £1,700 worth of photographic equipment find out more.
The Bountiful Landscape Market
"Buzzy","fun" and "informative" were some of the words used by visitors to describe our 40th Anniversary celebration event.
Held in Hungerford Town Hall on Saturday 21st July, some of the many highlights included a live educational hive of honeybees from Wiltshire Bee Centre, beautiful paintings of the AONB from Anna Dillon, eyecatching demonstrations from Hollington Forge and stonemason Joss Nanko, cakes from Co Co Choux, stone ground flour and bread from Wilton Windmill, stunning plants from Wanborough Herb Nursery and refreshing offerings from The Ramsbury Tea Company.
Visitors also enjoyed our 'Find the Lost Sheep' competition and a raffle as well as the opportunity to learn more about the AONB and the work that we do to conserve and enhance the area. For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Wessex Downs Woodland Training
The AONB is seeing a resurgence in wood fuel production and processing, facilitated by grants from the North Wessex Downs LEADER Programme. We are keen to ensure that woodland management is done sensitively, supporting the objectives of the North Wessex Downs Woodland Strategy (2005) and the Management Plan.
We are therefore running a series of workshops promoting sustainable woodland management. Fifty-five participants attended the first of these, on Woodland Management for Biodiversity, on Monday 9th July at the Calcot Centre, Reading. These included woodland owners and managers, private forestry contractors and employees, land agents, game managers, conservation professionals and community groups currently managing woods. It was delivered by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and included recognised experts from a range of backgrounds.
Woodland biodiversity is a valued component of sustainable forests, providing interest and delight for visitors. Getting its management right is essential for the health of woodland ecosystems and economic viability. Some 23,300 hectares or just over 13% of the North Wessex Downs AONB is wooded. Over a third of this woodland is identified as ancient in origin and over 45% has either a national or local designation for its particular wildlife value. Perhaps most significantly, our research has identified that only 44% of this woodland is under active management.
Further workshops will be taking place later this year, looking at conserving heritage, the economics of forestry and approaches to social forestry. For further information or to book a place please call Amanda Ingham of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust on 01256 381186 or email email@example.com.
Chalk Grassland Day
Local groups attended an event looking at current best practice in managing chalk grassland, jointly hosted by the North Wessex Downs and Chilterns AONBs. With site visits either side of the Thames, participants brushed up on their plant identification skills and saw the results of different grazing regimes.
One of those attending, Peter Cockerill of the Blewbury Sustainability Group, said of the day: "All the site visits were superb examples of species rich swards worked under quite different management and grazing regimes. The speakers were well chosen to give great depth to the day, talking about everything from plants, fungi and snails to butterflies and farming methods".
There was also a demonstration by our very own SWEAT (Scything Without Effort or Tears), a company set up with assistance from the Sustainable Development Fund. Special thanks to our hosts at Lardon Chase, Chalkhills Farm, the Hardwick Estate and Coombe End Farm. Also to speakers including Dr Chris Smith and Des Sussex from Natural England.
AONB farm highly commended
Congratulations to Peter and Juliet Kindersley of Sheepdrove Organic Farm, near Lambourn in the North Wessex Downs, who are Highly Commended in the Nature of Farming Awards for their efforts to help wildlife. Find out more.
Landscapes for life...
Andrew Lord and Katie Wilson from the AONB Team and Richard Broadhead from Wiltshire Council represented the North Wessex Downs at the Annual Conference of the National Association for AONBs in York on 17-19th July which focused on how AONBs and National Parks are working at 'shaping nature on a landscape scale' at a local and national level. Find out more about the presentations, field trips and workshops.
Oliver goes wild in the woods!
Ever wanted to start fire without matches? Find wild food? Sleep in a shelter you have made yourself?
Oliver, our acting Assistant Director recently joined bushcraft company Natures Craft for an exciting course in Savernake Forest. Run by Andy Noble and his team, the weekend's activities included instruction on green woodworking, building shelters, tracking animals and plenty more skills straight out of a boy's own comic! After a rewarding day in the woods, everyone sat down to an excellent pigeon stew and some of the most amazing bread cooked on the campfire, before the braver members retired to their handmade shelters.
It's a great weekend for families, couples or anyone who wants to get back to nature. You can find Natures Craft on the Our Land website.
Grants to enhance the AONB
Five a Day Market Garden
Five a Day Market Garden in Englefield received an SDF grant to run workshops and courses in community wildlife gardening: a course of eight 3-hour sessions aimed at adults, plus three half-day children's / family workshops.
The courses are being run at Five A Day Market Garden, a community gardening project in Englefield, Berkshire. Participants will create new habitats and features to attract and support native wildlife, both at the Five A Day Market Garden community project and in their own gardens at home. See below for diary dates.
If you think one of our SDF grants could help your project please get in touch with Oliver Cripps on 01488 680457 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LEADER funding update
The North Wessex Downs LEADER Programme is progressing well and we currently only have £114k project money left to award and it is likely that the Local Action Group will do this over the next 4-5 months. It really is the last chance for prospective applicants to get their enquiries in if they wish to apply for funding from the current LEADER fund.
New projects need to be completed by Spring next year so that the Programme can be closed by the end of the year. We do not know yet whether there will be a subsequent LEADER Programme in the area - discussions are ongoing at EU and UK wide level. Find out more.
Dorothy Morley Conservation Award
Is your local community group creating a wildlife pond, planting a hedgerow or making a wildlife garden? Community groups in Hungerford, Lambourn and surrounding villages have until 31 May 2013 to apply for a grant form the Dorothy Morley Conservation Award to help them do conservation projects that benefit wildlife and people. Application form available from www.bbowt.org.uk or 01628 829574.
Paths for Communities Grant Scheme
Natural England has launched a new Paths For Communities Grant scheme enabling community groups and partnerships to improve their local public rights of way network. The fund totals £2 million, to be spent before May 2014. Full details at www.naturalengland.org.uk/p4c.
Some dates for your diary
||Conservation Explorers' Summer - A varied programme of events designed to tell the stories of some of the Living Rainforest's threatened species, as well as endangered plants and animals closer to home here in the UK. See Living Rainforest
||Animal Antics! - Play some games to learn all about garden birds and mammals, and become a Wildlife Detective! Email email@example.com.
||Moth Hunt at Sheepdrove Organic Farm - near Lambourn. 9pm. More info
||Pond Explorers! - Try your hand at pond dipping to discover what's lurking in our wildlife pond, then find out how creatures survive underwater! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
||Hungerford Farmers' Market - High Street, 10am-2pm
||A Visit to Eling Organic Farm - near Hampstead Norreys. Find out how a modern organic farm is managed and its fertility maintained.1.30pm. More info
||Garden Mammals, Amphibians & Reptiles - Community wildlife gardening course. 10-1pm, £5 Email email@example.com.
||Trees & Hedgerows for Garden Wildlife - Community wildlife gardening course. 10-1pm, £5 Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
||Walk with an archaeologist - Half day walk with archaeologist Dr Nick Snashall through the highways and byways of the Avebury landscape. 10am, £15. More info.
||Encouraging Birds into your Garden - Community wildlife gardening course. 10-1pm, £5 Email email@example.com.
If you have an event in the North Wessex Downs that you would like us to mention, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
AONB office is bat maternity roost!
One damp June morning, we opened the office to find a tiny bat huddled on the door mat. After moving it carefully with a towel to a safe box, we phoned the Bat Conservation Trust for some advice. Our very own Batman, James Shipman, soon appeared to rescue the forlorn little mammal and confirmed it was a pregnant female Pipistrelle. He later returned to check where it could have come from and made an amazing discovery - that the AONB office is a maternity roost for 141 Pipistrelles!
Read James' Bat Facts.
The North Wessex Downs AONB Team:
Julie Baldwin, acting Office Manager
Oliver Cripps, acting Assistant Director
Dawn Hamblin, Leader Programme Manager
Andrew Lord, Planning Advisor
Diane Nicolle, North Wessex Farmland Birds Advisor
Henry Oliver, Director
Katie Wilson, Communications Officer