Summer 2009 Update

Photo: @ShortTitle@
Reporting on the Board's progress since April 2009

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Reporting on the Board's activities since April 2009



Farming & Forestry Study

A new study, recently produced for the Board, has identified the potential impacts of climate change and globalizations on the future of farming and forestry in the Cotswolds.

Cotswold Way circular walks launch

Eight new circular walks on and around the Cotswold Way National Trail have been launched, aimed at encouraging more people to explore the trail in shorter sections.

Grant helps to educate on climate change

Westonbirt Arboretum is benefiting from a grant from the Board’s Sustainable Development Fund to develop a new trees and climate change educational programme.


Future of Farming & Forestry Study

A new study entitled ‘Impact of Climate Change and Globalisation on Farming & Forestry’ has been produced by Cumulus Consultants Ltd, in association with Land Use Consultants and the Royal Agricultural College, on behalf of the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

The study report has identified a number of scenarios for change in farming and forestry activities in the AONB over the next 20 years, and sets out a number of specific recommendations which would help conserve the landscape and businesses for now and future generations. The recommendations include: ongoing research and monitoring; changing priorities reflected in new policies and strategies; development of new skills and training; diversification of businesses; effective soil and water management, emissions control, landscape change management measures; and a closer working relationship between businesses and local communities.

Following on from the study's recommendations, the Board is developing a number of actions to take forward including the organisation of a climate change event for the farming and forestry sectors which is expected to take place in the near future.

Farmland Bird Project

The Farmland Bird Project continues to make good progress. Since 1st April, a further 11 farms (2 in Avon, 2 in Worcestershire and 7 in Gloucestershire) have been visited, covering around 4,200 hectares, and Farm Environment Plans for these farms have been approved. Four HLS applications have also been received and processed through to ‘live’ agreements, one of which is being developed as a demonstration farm.
Seven presentations were given at a range of events including the Bath & West Show and the Gloucestershire Farming Forum; 2 farmland bird walks for the public were held at Calmsden Farms and Coneygree Farm, plus attendance was made at the British Ornithologists’ Union Farmland Bird Conference.
The official launch of the South West Farmland Bird Initiative was held on 30th April.

First thatching taster weekends take place

Two brand new taster weekends for the traditional craft of thatching recently took place as part of the Board’s annual programme of rural skills courses.
The weekends, which took place in Northleach, were attended by nine participants who were taught the different types and styles of thatching as well as how to source materials and use thatching tools. Led by Ben Thomas, a Member of the National Society of Master Thatchers, the participants were shown the principles of thatching and were able to have a go themselves.



Drystone walling courses

As part of the Boards’ ongoing commitment to conserving and celebrating rural skills, 4 dry stone walling weekend courses were organised during May and June, attracting 38 participants in total. The courses were held at Tetbury, Lansdown near Bath and Broadway.

Walling No Barrier

The Walling No Barrier project, which was set up in partnership with Abingdon and Witney College and the Dry Stone Walling Association to support young wallers, has now been successfully completed. The project took place on Springhill Farm in Milton-Under-Wychwood, courtesy of local farmer Mr Edward Reynolds. More than 50 people have taken part in the project since it began and the training wall used for the course, is now finished.



Green Infrastructure study

The Cotswolds Conservation Board undertook on behalf of Natural England a baseline study of green infrastructure in the Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy area. This will be used by the local authorities to develop landscape and recreation schemes as part of future housing allocations.
Green infrastructure includes the network of green spaces and other natural elements such as rivers and lakes that are interspersed between and connect villages, towns and cities.

Forthcoming courses and events

Green woodworking courses offered
Two brand new weekend courses of woodland rural crafts are being offered by the Board in October. Pole lathing, coppicing and hurdle making are being taught at Sherborne on the weekends of 10 & 11 and 24 & 25 October.
Participants will receive an introduction to woodland crafts, learn how to use a range of tools and have a go at making items such as rolling pins, milking stools and gate hurdles.
For further information, contact the Board on 01451 862000 or email

Rural skills competitions
The Board will be holding its annual dry stone walling competition, in partnership with the Dry Stone Walling Association, on Sunday 4 October at Slade Farm, Bourton-on-the-Hill.  The annual hedgelaying competition will be held on Saturday 21 November. Venue to be confirmed.

Promoting HLS

Five thousand copies of a new leaflet aimed at farmers have been produced and are being distributed, in partnership with Natural England.

The leaflet is designed to be a clear and straightforward way of raising awareness of the type of grant funding that is available to farmers within the AONB.
The Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) grant scheme can bring environmental benefits to the area, as well as be financially rewarding to businesses. The leaflet explains the opportunities to farmers and how farms might qualify for funding.  It can be downloaded from the Cotswolds AONB website.


Understanding and enjoying

Cotswold Way circular walks launch

A brand new set of circular walking routes designed to encourage more people to discover and enjoy the Cotswold Way National Trail, has been launched.
The initial set of eight is the first of a series that will take in scenic routes along the Cotswold Way from Chipping Camden in the north to the City of Bath in the south. Further routes will be added over the forthcoming year, taking the complete set to a total of 26 walks by the end of 2010. Detailed route cards, containing maps, written directions and other useful information are free to download from the Cotswold Way National Trail website.


Explore the Cotswolds

Fifteen thousand copies of the Explore the Cotswolds by Public Transport have been produced along with 12,000 copies of timetables for the Cotswold Way National Trail, and North, Central and South Districts.
These 10th anniversary editions provide a range of information on the Cotswolds including attractions, activities, ‘taster’ days out, walking routes and cycle rides.
The guides can be downloaded from and found at tourist information centres throughout the AONB.

Cotswold Way Hall of Fame

Walkers completing the 102 mile Cotswold Way National Trail will be able to have their achievement recognised in a brand new online Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame, which is featured on the Cotswold Way website, will include a growing list of all those who complete the walk, along with walkers’ own experiences and photos. As the list grows, potential walkers will be able to find out more about walking the trail from others who have completed it.

To be included in the Hall of Fame, a card can be requested via the Cotswold Way website, which can be stamped at the start of the trail and at a number of locations in between. Once the card has been completed and submitted, walkers will be rewarded with either a quality brass pin badge or an embroidered patch to recognise their achievement, as well as have their name entered into the Hall of Fame.  For further details, visit the Cotswold Way website.

It's Showtime!

Staff and voluntary wardens from the Board attended the Cotswold Show at Cirencester to promote the AONB and its activities. During the show a live radio interview with BBC Radio Gloucestershire was broadcast direct from the AONB’s promotional trailer.

The AONB trailer will be appearing at further shows shortly, including the Festival of the Tree at Westonbirt 28-31 August, the Moreton Show on 5th September and Wychwood Forest Fair on 6th September.


Autumn/Winter Cotswold Lion

The new edition of the Cotswold Lion is hot off the press. Fifty thousand copies of the 12-page, colourful newspaper are being distributed to tourist information centres, libraries, and attractions throughout the AONB.  As well as containing news and features, the publication includes 4 pages packed full of guided walks led by our Cotswold Voluntary Wardens.
Copies can also be downloaded direct from our website.


Step into the Cotswolds route completed

A new walking route has been completed thanks to funds raised through the Step into the Cotswolds Project.

Run by the Board in conjunction with West Oxfordshire District Council, Step into the Cotswolds formed part of the Green Tourism Project, and helped to raised funds through local businesses and visitors to the area.  With the final section of wall built, the Stonesfield route in Oxfordshire has now been completed.

The route includes a number of key attractions including Blenheim Palace, Wychwood Forest and North Leigh Roman Villa, and is available to download from the AONB website, along with the other Step into the Cotswolds walking routes.

Annual Review 2008/09

The Cotswolds Conservation Board has produced its 2008/09 Annual Review, highlighting the achievements and activities of the Board during the last financial year. Copies of the publication are available to download from the Board's website or click here.

Cotswolds AONB is now on

Keep up to date with news and events from the Cotswolds Conversation Board and the AONB by following us on


People and communities

Grant helps to fund climate change educational programme

The Board has granted £7,300 from its Sustainable Development Fund to Westonbirt Arboretum to create a new trees and climate change education programme, called Forests for the Future.

The funding will go towards the purchase of new hi-tech microscopes that children can use to get closer to trees and insects. The outdoor lab or ‘Laboratree’ will be available at this year’s Festival of the Tree, before going out to schools in the area over the coming year.

The funding has also helped with the production of a new educational DVD on climate change, entitled ‘The World is Hot Enough’, which will be shown at the Festival and other places afterwards.

Pupils benefit from wardens educational project

The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens have been working with a number of schools throughout the AONB to help pupils understand more about their local area and why the Cotswolds is a special place.

Over 300 children from eight primary schools and one secondary school – Cranham, Chipping Campden, Blockley, Ilmington, Bibury, Birdlip, Greatfield Park, Wychwood and Colerne – have taken part in the pilot project which has included a range of outdoor-based activities, such as map reading, fossil hunting, tree and lichen identification, mud sculptures, farm visits and guided walks. The scheme has been helped by partner organisations including the Gloucestershire Geology Trust, Gloucestershire County Council, National Trust and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.

The aim of the scheme was to give pupils the opportunity to explore the countryside on their doorstep and understand why the Cotswolds is a special place. All schools taking part in the project believed that it was extremely worthwhile and provided an excellent learning experience. It is hoped that further educational projects will be developed, following on from this initial success.

Forum for Partners

Twenty six people attended this year’s first Forum for Partners which took place on 15th July at the Moreton Area Centre.

The event included a visit in the morning to one of the demonstration farms involved with the Cotswold Farmland Bird Project. Ten people attended Whittington Farm and enjoyed listening to farmer Ian Boyd talk enthusiastically about the various activities and initiatives that he has carried out on his farm to encourage wildlife and improve the environment for farmland birds as well as other species.

The next Forum for Partners event will take place at Westonbirt Arboretum on the morning of Tuesday 10th November. Invitations will be sent out in due course.

The Board welcomes two new students

Tom Pocklington and Andrew Morris have joined the Board on work placement schemes to promote the Higher Level Environmental Stewardship Scheme to farmers throughout the AONB.

Tom (left), who is studying BSc (Hons) in Countryside and Environmental Management at Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, is on a one year placement with the Board until July 2010. Andrew graduated in September from the MSc Rural Land Management course at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester and is on a 6-month work placement until Feburary 2010. During their time at the Board, Tom and Andrew will be working with farmers and landowners in the Cotswolds to promote the HLS scheme and produce applications along with detailed farm environmental plans, on behalf of those wishing to enter into the scheme. In addition, Tom will be assisting with walling and hedgelaying competitions, surveying dry stone walls and working with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens.  Tom’s favourite farm animal is the Lincoln Red cattle and Andrew’s is the Oxford Down sheep.

NAAONB 11th Annual Conference 2009

Valuing our Environment: AONBs – Diamonds in the Landscape

Three members of the Board attended this year’s National Association for AONB’s, hosted by the Northern Ireland family of eight AONBs.
Entitled ‘Valuing our Environment: AONBs - Diamonds in the Landscape’, the conference looked at the different ways of valuing and getting value from our AONBs. There was also the opportunity to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the National Parks and Access to Countryside Act. For further details, visit the NAAONB website –