February/March 2013: Latest news from the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

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News from the Cotswolds Conservation Board

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Cotswolds AONB eNews
Hello and welcome to the latest edition of Cotswolds AONB eNews, a quarterly newsletter designed to keep you up-to-date on all of the Cotswolds Conservation Board's latest activity, news and insights from across the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Rural Skills programme 2012/13 - another record breaking year!

The Board’s rural skills training programme had another successful and record-breaking year in 2012/13, helping to train more people than ever before. Key highlights from this year’s programme include:

  • Rural skills training for 230 people was provided - a 35% increase on the previous year’s high of 170 and a new record for the programme
  • Twenty eight courses were delivered during the year - a 47% increase on the previous year’s best of 19.
  • Six different types of courses were provided, including dry stone walling, hedgelaying, green woodworking. lime mortar, woodland coppicing and blacksmithing.
  • Dry stone walling and hedgelying remain the  most popular subjects with 171 people attending these courses alone.

In addition to the core programme, the Board launched its corporate rural skills team building events last year, providing its first corporate hedgelaying event on 19th February for staff from Gavin Jones Landscaping Ltd.   It is planned to continue this new element of the rural skills programme in to 2013/14.

Nature Improvement Areas in the Cotswolds

The Conservation Board has been working with the Cotswolds Ecological Networks Forum to identify two Nature Improvement Areas (NIA) for the AONB: the Cotswolds Scarp and Cotswolds Valleys NIA. As part of this work, a useful summary factsheet of the Cotswolds NIAs, as well as a downloadable map, have been produced and are available to view by clicking here.

Cotswolds National Character Assessment published

The Cotswolds National Character Assessment Profile has now been published on Natural England’s website and can be viewed here.

As part of their responsibilities as set out in the Natural Environment White Paper,1 Biodiversity 20202 and the European Landscape Convention,3, Natural England are revising profiles for England’s 159 National Character Areas (NCAs). These are areas that share similar landscape characteristics, and which follow natural lines in the landscape rather than administrative boundaries, making them a good decision-making framework for the natural environment.

Understanding and enjoying

Cotswold Way goes mobile

A new mobile application for the Cotswold Way National Trail is being developed and will be launched next month. The official Cotswold Way app will feature clear mapping, accommodation listings and a whole host of other information useful to walkers. It will also include a range of clever tools for measuring distances, route planning and tracking your progress via GPS amongst others – all you need in fact, to plan and enjoy your Cotswold Way adventure.  
For further details contact National Trail Officer, James Blockley at james.blockley@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk

Cotswold Lion

The Spring/Summer Cotswold Lion newspaper is now out! The 20-page popular publication is packed with features and articles plus 8 pages of walks and events taking place across the Cotswolds AONB.
In this issue we take a look at a range of topics including wildflower meadows, arts and crafts, the Romans, plus health and the natural environment.
To download a copy, click here. Hard copies are available in visitor information centres, libraries, attractions plus many other places. A subscription service has also been set up to allow people to receive their copy direct to their door, click here for details.

Wildflower walks

This summer we are celebrating one of the distinctive features of the Cotswolds landscape - its wildflower grasslands - with a series of guided walks led by our Cotswold Voluntary Wardens.

The walks, ranging from easy 3-mile walks to a more strenuous 11 miles, cover different parts of the AONB such as Bath, Painswick and the Glyme Valley, introducing people to some of the Cotswolds’ most beautiful and wildflower-rich areas. Cleeve, Minchinhampton and Ravensgate Commons are featured, as well as a walk on Stinchcombe Hill with the Gloucestershire County Butterfly Recorder to look for some of the summer butterflies that can be seen here including the Chalk Hill Blue and Dark Green Fritillary.
For further details, download or pick-up a copy of the Spring/Summer Cotswold Lion, alternatively visit www.escapetothecotswolds.org.uk

Our Land launches new competition

Following the success of the last Our Land competition to win a week's holiday in the Cotswolds AONB, which generated over 2,200 entrants, a new competition has been launched to win a 4-night break in the High Weald AONB.  The prize features accommodation in an award-winning barn at Fair Oak Farm plus copies of latest books Lost Lanes & Wild Guide.  For further details, visit: www.our-land.co.uk/our-land-competition

People and communities

Business survey findings revealed at Annual Forum

Recent findings from research including a survey of businesses in the Cotswolds AONB have revealed the total value of economic activity within the AONB to be worth around £2billion and that many businesses significantly benefit from being located within the Cotswolds.

Working on behalf of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, Broadway-based firm Cumulus Consultants and economists, ICF-GHK, surveyed businesses across all industry sectors throughout the Cotswolds for their views on how being located in the AONB makes a difference to their business. Responses were received from 140 businesses. The results of the research were presented at the Board’s well-attended Annual Forum on 1 March, the title of which was ‘Benefits for Business’. The Forum also featured a range of interesting talks by representatives from Defra, the Peak District National Park plus local companies who presented their own views on running a business in the AONB.

The final report by Cumulus will be published in April. All presentations, plus discussion notes are available to view here.

National Trail Officers pay Winchcombe a visit

The Cotswold Way National Trail and Winchcombe recently hosted trail officers from the 15 National Trails in England and Wales for their 2-day, biannual meeting to discuss trail management and to share best practice.

Sheila Talbot gave a presentation on the Walkers are Welcome scheme in the town and how the local economy has improved over the last 3 years as a result of joining the scheme.  They were also introduced to the work of the Voluntary Wardens on the Cotswold Way and in the AONB, followed by a guided tour of the area by Voluntary Warden Rob Talbot.

Alison joins the team

The Board welcomes Alison Lammas to the team at Northleach who has recently joined as Office Manager.
Alison, who lives in Hartpury, previously worked in a multimedia production company, helping to create Sust-it, an energy efficiency website. Prior to that she worked for the Countryside Agency on the Local Heritage Initiative, and at the Countryside Commission as part of the secretariat for the National Parks Review Panel. She has also been working for South Worcestershire College as a Printmaking lecturer, and continues to enjoying painting and printmaking.

Diary dates

Farming Forum: 24 April - Cirencester

This year's Annual Cotswold Farming Forum will take place on Wednesday 24 April, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester.

The event, which will be chaired by Gloucestershire NFU Chairman Charles Mann, will feature a talk by Tim Legg from the National Climate Information Centre on recent weather patterns', followed by Lewis Purbrick from the Environment Agency who will be talking about the role of the Cotswolds in flood management.

For further details, please click here and to register your interest, please email: info@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk

Landscapes for Life Conference 2013: 16-18th July - Ipswich

The Landscapes for Life Conference 2013 will be themed around the topic of water and will take place from 16th to 18th July at Ipswich.  Organised by the National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) and local hosts Dedham Vale, Norfolk Coast and Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Partnerships and the Broads Authority, the conference will bring delegates together to discuss the part that the UK's Protected Landscape family have in ensuring that our water systems are well managed and our environment is safeguarded for future generations.

To register interest in receiving further details please go to: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk/2013-conference.html