The 13th National Association for AONBs conference held in Penryn, Cornwall early July was attended by the AONB Partnership Chairman and AONB Manager. 2011 is the International Year of Volunteers, a theme that coincides well with the coalition government’s Big Society agenda, and the conference looked at how the collaborative working of AONB partnerships can provide Local Solutions to National Issues.
A message from His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales opened the conference and Defra Minister Richard Benyon MP was able to clarify the future agenda for AONBs now that they are under direct sponsorship from Defra. All presentations and further feedback can be found on the conference blog http://www.landscapesforlifeconference.org.uk/
The Mendip Hills Futures Working Group that met on 21st July 2011 were updated on the Devon AONB Management Services adaptation plan– how the 5 AONBs in Devon are looking at where services costs can be reduced, shared and new funding raised to strengthen the resilience of the Devon AONBs. An adaptation plan has been drafted for the Mendip Hills and will be presented to the AONB Partnership in September. This plan includes alternative office accommodation and IT provision as well as identifying a vision for future work and establishing a trust to bid for new funding.
The third group of AONB Young Rangers celebrated the end of their 2 year programme with an overnight camp at Fernhill Farm. The camp included a chance for the Young Rangers to learn more about farming in the AONB and learn the skill of sheep shearing. During the camp the Young Rangers were presented with certificates for the John Muir Explorer Award by AONB Chairman Cllr Dawn Hill to mark their achievements during the scheme. http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/2011/07/27/young-rangers-celebrate/
Two Mendip Hills Young Rangers along with project officer Andy Mallender represented the AONB at this year’s Europarc International Junior Ranger Camp. The camp was hosted by Weerribben-Wieden National Park in the Netherlands – the largest freshwater wetland in north western Europe.
The Mendip Hills AONB Unit has now recruited 15 young people between the ages of 11 to 14 to join its new two-year Young Ranger programme starting this September. The scheme provides a fantastic opportunity to find out about protected landscapes through a variety of activities that take them out and about in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/young-rangers/
Mendip Hills AONB Sustainable Development Fund– next deadline 22nd August 2011- see web site for details. http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/sustaining/
Would you like to learn how to do dry stone walling or just gain more walling experience, and help restore one of the many walls in the Mendip Hills? Have a look at the Volunteer Tasks Programme then come along and join in! http://www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Mendip-Hills-AONB-Volunteers-AUG_OCT-20111.pdf
The AONB will be taking a display to Bristol Water’s “Wild About Chew 2” event at Woodford Lodge near Chew Stoke on Saturday 20th August. The event will include lots of fun activities and help visitors find out how a wide range of organisations work to look after the environment in the area. For more information see the Bristol water website: