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January News from the Chilterns AONB

In this Issue

Top image: thick mud, heavy rain and plenty of enthusiasm from our "New Shoots" group this month. They did a fantastic job of hedge-laying/coppicing 200m either side of a bridleway at Chiltern Society Reserve at Bottom Wood. Huge thanks go to the New Shoots team and to the Chiltern Society for leading the session.

New book revisits the story of red kite reintroduction in the UK

A new book has been published describing the story of the successful reintroduction of red kites to the UK in the 1990s.

The book details how the Chilterns was selected as the initial location for the establishment of young chicks brought in from Sweden and Spain. 

The book was written by Dr Mike Pienkowski, Chairman of the Red Kite Project Team from its establishment in the 1980s to 1995. It charts why the decision was taken to reintroduce, how it was implemented, the international help and partnerships faced, and the challenges that the programme had to overcome.
Read more

Chilterns AONB Boundary Review: Consultants' Update with LUC 

LUC are delighted to have been commissioned by Natural England to review the boundary of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), as part of Natural England’s Landscape Designation Programme. This project will assess natural beauty and the desirability of extension of the AONB around the whole boundary.

“We know and love the Chilterns through our past work within the AONB. We are looking forward to getting started on the boundary review and assessing areas for extension of this beautiful landscape,” says Kate Ahern, pictured top left with colleagues Ed White and Rebecca Greatrix.

This first task is the detailed technical assessment following the process outlined in Natural England’s guidance which considers factors contributing to natural beauty: Landscape quality, scenic quality, Relative wildness, Relative tranquillity, Natural heritage features, cultural heritage. They'll be chances for the public to have their say through a consultation process in 2024. Watch this space for updates.


Read more

Celebrating working women of the Chilterns: a conference on 8th March

Our Chalk, Cherries and Chairs Landscape Partnership invites you a conference celebrating the outstanding women of the Chilterns, past and present - from weavers and sculptors to historians and policy makers.

It will take place on International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8th March 2023, at the spectacular Missenden Abbey.
Learn about the work of the women past, present and future who have made their mark living in and around the woodlands and grass meadows of the Chilterns. Featuring key note speakers and panel discussions, craft demos, book and craft shop, exhibition of invisible exceptional Chilterns women, and more.

The conference costs just £12 for a day conference pass with lunch, £45 including dinner, and £99 with overnight accommodation.
Conference information

‘Hidden Hands: Women and work in the Chilterns’ exhibition 

The conference coincides with the launch of ‘Hidden Hands: Women and work in the Chilterns’, a 6-month long exhibition opening at Wycombe Museum in March, which curates and presents the original research by our volunteers into the lives of traditional skilled craftswomen across the woodlands of the Central Chilterns.

>> Find out more

Become a Chilterns wildlife and plant life surveyor

Are you passionate about local wildlife and protecting it? Perhaps you're an experienced birder who'd love to learn survey technique. Or maybe you're a relative beginner with a keen interest in plants or wildlife who'd love to learn to recognise birds and their calls, wildflowers, or butterflies of the Chilterns. If so, 'Tracking the Impact' could be for you!

'Tracking the Impact' is an amazing opportunity offering volunteers a range of completely free online and in-person training sessions on bird, butterfly and plant identification. Once trained and ready, volunteers can then take on their own 1km square survey area to monitor. You can take part in a Breeding Bird Survey, Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey, or the National Plant Monitoring Scheme, and help track the trends of wildlife in the Chilterns. Part of Chalk, Cherries and Chairs Landscape Partnership funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and HS2 Environment Fund.

Find out more

Free online introduction to citizen science on the River Chess, 1st Feb

The River Chess Smarter Water Catchment Initiative are looking for new citizen scientists near Rickmansworth!

Come along to a free online talk on 1st February 2023 to hear some of the results from our citizen scientist volunteers' work so far, as well as how you can get involved with the new river surveys we will be kickstarting in 2023.

We’ve been recording ecological and water quality data to inform us about the current conditions of the Chess catchment and we’re planning to do more investigative work in the lower River Chess, between Sarratt and Rickmansworth.

Register for our free online event

New film: the National Hedge laying Championships 2022

Did you know hedges were used as living fences, marking ownership and keeping animals in or out of a field? However, over time, gaps in the hedgerows develop allowing animals to escape or trample crops. For years this has been managed with a technique called hedge laying, which involves cutting each stem and laying it down to create a living hedge.

Hedge laying is big business and the Chilterns played host to the National Hedge laying Championships on 29th October 2022 at Crowmarsh Battle Barns near Wallingford. We supported the event through a Farming in Protected Landscapes grant and have made a short film with interviews with farmers, hedge layers and organisers.

Watch our video to find out more about this fascinating event and why it’s so important for our countryside 
Watch video

Superb January bird count results from our Central Chilterns Farmer Cluster!

Four years ago, the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs Landscape Partnership started its farmer cluster winter supplementary bird feeding project. Inspired by the results of volunteer bird surveys, 18 farmers have fed over 55 tonnes of seed. Such a simple thing to do and it’s having a huge impact! 

Our Landowner Engagement Officer, Nick Marriner, has just completed his annual New Year feeder counts and results are in...

  • Across five core target species total number birds recorded topped out just over 3,000 (1,390 in 2022 & 1,261 in 2021) - a 120% increase! 👍
  • By species this breaks down to
    • Corn Bunting - 13 birds on 2 farms (31 on 3 farms last year).
    • Yellowhammer - 352 birds on 10 farms (353 on 13 farms last year).
    • Linnet - 893 birds on 6 farms (90 on 3 farms last year).
    • Chaffinch - 1,758 birds on 15 farms (877 on 18 farms last year).
    • Brambling - 11 birds on 3 farms (40 on 8 farms last year).

Nick said: "There is lots of annual fluctuation, but it is great to see the incremental impact the efforts of our farmers are having at a landscape scale. It's also important to attach monitoring to Track the Impact of farmers work and celebrate the successes they are having too - it's the best bit of my job!" 

"A bird ringing programme is starting this month too so hopefully an even richer story to tell come the spring 👏 Farmers are leading the way! 👍"

The Central Chilterns Farmer Cluster has support from Chalk, Cherries and Chairs Landscape Partnership and National Lottery Heritage Fund and HS2 Environment Fund.

50 years of the Ridgeway National Trail 

2023 marks the 50th anniversary since the Ridgeway was officially opened as a National Trail in 1973 by Lord Nugent.

To celebrate, enjoy events along the trail throughout 2023, including a Ridgeway and Ancient pathways day course, a race to the stones marathon, the Swire Ridgeway Arts Prize exhibition, and summer art journalling workshops. Plus, a Ridgeway Archelogy talk in September by Mary-Ann Ochota.
Read more

We're recruiting - come and work with us

Head of Landscapes

Do you have environmental expertise & a flair for collaboration & developing partnerships? You'll have a strong track record of working within, or in partnership with, protected landscapes. 

Salary Circa £50K pa


>> Read more and Apply 

Head of Operations

We're seeking a dynamic, strategic thinker who can effectively plan & manage multiple projects. This is an exciting opportunity to make a big impact on developing the Board's future resilience.

Salary circa £50K pa

>> Read more and Apply

Executive Assistant

Looking for an interesting role in the nature sector?
Support our CEO! You'll be organised & proactive. As well as diary management you'll prepare reports & assist with fundraising work.

Salary £24-27K pa


>> Read more and Apply

Secretary of State Appointed Board Member

In addition to the roles on our staff team, DEFRA is also recruiting for two Secretary of State appointed members to join our Board. It's an exciting opportunity to look after Chilterns nature, wildlife and cultural heritage and to help us increase diversity in the countryside. Please contact us if you'd like to discuss the roles. 

>> Read more and Apply

Half term ideas in the Chilterns

Widmer Farm Park: A brand new outdoor farm attraction between High Wycombe and Aylesbury with lots of animals that can't wait to meet you. See Llamas, Alpacas, Sheep, Goats, Donkeys and Horses.

>> Find out more

Bekonscot Model Village: Visit the world's oldest model village - seven little towns stuck in a 1930s time warp. Enjoy a moving circus, funfair and mine, model trains whizzing through and boats, and ride the miniature railway.

>> Find out more

Free resources and walks from Chalk, Cherries and Chairs: Follow the self-guided Wycombe Rye history trail and an Amersham time travel trail, download colouring sheets of a Chilterns map, farmyard and birds of prey. Scroll to the bottom of this page to find them.

>> Download here

Piggy Pet and Play: Have a farm tour then spend two hours with the miniature pigs at Kew Little Pigs in Old Amersham. Meet pigs of all ages and pet, groom and play with them 

>> Find out more

Save the date! Chilterns Walking Festival: 20th May - 4th June 2023

Pop this in your diaries! The Chilterns Walking Festival will be back from 20th May to 4th June - your chance to explore and enjoy the landscapes, wildlife, people and places of the Chilterns with art and literature walks, history and heritage walks, mindful walks, singing walks and more. Watch this space. Read more about Chilterns Walking Festival.


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