Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
2:10 PM 19th September 2018

Future Of AONB At Crossroads

Julian Glover with Nidderdale AONB Managers, Sarah Kettlewell and Paul Burgess
Julian Glover with Nidderdale AONB Managers, Sarah Kettlewell and Paul Burgess
The future of protected landscapes is at a ‘crossroads’ according to experts speaking at the Landscape Matters conference in Nidderdale.

Funding streams of the management of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are coming to a close, with schemes such as the Heritage Lottery funded Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership ending this year.

Paul Burgess, Manager of Nidderdale AONB, said: “The Landscape Matters conference shared crucial learning from the four year landscape partnership scheme. These findings could have national significance for the future of landscape conservation, but moving this work forward is uncertain as we’ve relied heavily on the Heritage Lottery to date.”

The key challenges of protected landscapes that emerged were uncertainty around farming post-Brexit, rural isolation, and providing opportunities to engage all generations into the rural economy.

Commissioner for the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, Professor David Hill CBE, who chaired the conference said, ‘change is coming in a major way’ with a need to shift from grants and subsidies to a ‘restoration economy’ that brings in measures around investing in natural capital. He suggested businesses that undertake major development projects earmark spend into a fund committed to the environment, conservation and biodiversity. Landowners and farmers could also look to diversifying business opportunities with traditional building, drystone walling and hay meadows.

The conference was attended by writer Julian Glover, who was commissioned in May by the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to conduct a review of ways to make England’s protected landscapes fit for the future.

Julian Glover said: “I’m thrilled to be in Yorkshire and see the hard work that’s being done by everyone to keep the countryside not just beautiful but busy and successful, too. It’s thanks to landowners, famers and volunteers that schemes such as the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership work. People from all over the world come to Yorkshire to enjoy the stunning scenery but it’s important to remember that without jobs and homes for local people we won’t be able to keep our countryside alive for the future.”

Louise Brown, Scheme Manager at the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership, said: “The work of the landscape partnership scheme resulted in some remarkable outcomes, from training disengaged schoolchildren in heritage skills to working with farmers to increase biodiversity, archaeological excavations, and conserving flagship heritage sites. The key is engaging people. People are at the heart of this work, and we need to build a movement of people to ensure the AONB thrives. Providing these opportunities needs long-term structures in place.”

Speakers at the Landscape Matters conference included the Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for Yorkshire and Humber David Renwick, along with representatives from the farming community, Defra, the heritage skills sector, and Ken Smith, Chair of the Council for British Archaeology.

Paul Burgess added: “The 25 year environment plan and Julian Glover’s review are all positive steps to look at longer term strategies. Despite the challenges and changes ahead, there’s enormous energy and a hunger from people to engage in and safeguard our countryside.”