Email Update June 2011

 Mendip Hills AONB Annual Review 2010-11 is now available as a PDF and hard copy. The review highlights key achievement of the AONB Unit over the last year including work on the Black Down project, development of the Young Ranger scheme and volunteering opportunities.

The Governments vision for the natural environment over the next 50 years is set out in the Natural Environment White Paper published last week. The Natural Environment White Paper (NEWP)- ‘The Natural Choice’ is based on research that shows the strong economic arguments for safeguarding and enhancing the natural environment.
The AONB Partnership will be considering the paper when it meets on 30th June 2011.
The White Paper also acts on the recommendations of ‘Making Space for Nature’ (Sept 2010), a report into the state of England’s wildlife sites  which showed that England’s wildlife sites are fragmented and not able to respond to the pressures of climate change and other pressures we put on our land. The report highlighted AONBs as an excellent base for delivering a more effective ecological network, not least because their management plans provide a basis for coordinated action.
The National Association of AONBs has welcomed the publication of the NEWP and has signed a joint statement with the English National Park Authorities Association, RSPB and National Trust. Think Big: ecological recovery in protected landscapes – summarises the opportunities and challenges and lists actions for making the aspirations of the White Paper a reality.
The Bowland Award is awarded annually for the best project, best practice or outstanding contribution to the well being of AONBs. This year’s theme is voluntary work delivered at a local level that could be used by the AONB family at a national level. The Mendip Hills AONB has nominated 2 of the 7 entries currently being voted upon. Chris Sperring of the Hawk and Owl Trust for his work with volunteers on the Mendip owl projects, and secondly the joint volunteer project with the Quantocks Hills AONB. Winner will be announced at the AONB conference on 5th July.

Young Rangers  – June’s expedition for the Young Rangers was to Brean Down – the day was to include a visit to the Victorian fortress but it was the battle against bracken that was our task for the day.
National Trust Ranger Rob Stephens explained how the limestone grassland of the site, a habitat typical of the Mendip Hills, is rich in rare plants and insects.  The Young Rangers were helping the ongoing work of the National Trust to control the bracken and encourage limestone grassland to thrive.
The AONB Planning Liaison Officer has recently provided support to Nempnett Thrubwell and Butcombe Parish Councils in raising concerns with Bath & North East Somerset Council and Jacob Rees Mogg, the local MP, over the unsightly nature and damaging impact on the AONB of development and alleged storing and burning of rubbish on a site in open countryside near the boundary of the parishes. A planning application is under consideration by the Council for a permanent change of agricultural land to equestrian use and to retain a stable block, field shelter, hay store, other structures and equipment currently allowed under a temporary planning consent.

 Natural England seeks Olympic Torchbearers to represent the environment

Along with climate change, waste, inclusion and healthy living, biodiversity is a key theme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Natural England is working closely with London 2012 to help make these the most sustainable games. We have been asked to find heroes to carry the flame and encourage nominations of people who have demonstrated commitment to the natural environment.
 Do you know volunteers who have been outstanding in their work for the natural environment through your organisation? Please go to the London 2012 website to find out more and make your nomination. The closing date is 29 June.

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