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AONB Nature Recovery Solutions

70@70 ...70 AONB projects to help nature recovery

AONBs across England and Wales are working hard to help nature recovery – here we present 70 examples of our work, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of AONBs. These achievements are the combined effort of thousands of farmers, landowners, conservation charities and volunteers, as well as the AONB teams themselves.

These projects show that, with the right tools, capacity, expertise and resources, we can have significant impact on nature recovery across our landscapes and beyond.

Each marker takes you to a project snapshot and photograph.

Warton Crag

Warton Crag

Warton Crag is a diverse site with species rich limestone grassland, successional areas of scrub, bracken, limestone pavement and exposed rock and woodland. Each of these habitats requires different management intervention.

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Volunteers protecting priority habitats

Volunteers protecting priority habitats

The AONB team hosts practical volunteer activities to maintaining small areas of important habitat, creating stepping stones and wildlife corridors between the larger reserves as well as buffer zones around them.

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Natural Futures & Dormice

Natural Futures & Dormice

Natural Futures established a hazel dormouse monitoring scheme, securing permission from landowners to install and monitor 300 new dormouse nest boxes

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Culm Community Crayfish Project

Culm Community Crayfish Project

The Culm Community Crayfish Project has helped monitor and conserve the Culm’s white-clawed crayfish population, one of only two such populations in Devon and facing extinction.

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Creating Saltmarsh

Creating Saltmarsh

Managed realignment of the coastline between Chichester Harbour and Selsey Bill included the creation of a wetland habitat at Cobnor Point near Chichester. A 500m stretch of sea wall was breached in two 25m sections along a public footpath, and bridges installed across the breaches.

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Tern Rafts

Tern Rafts

Tern species breeding in Chichester Harbour have a very limited number of sites on which to breed, and those sites are often threatened by tidal flooding, predation or human disturbance

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Chilterns Chalk Streams Project

Chilterns Chalk Streams Project

Britain’s fastest declining mammal, water voles having declined by 90% in the last 30 years. Since 2001 the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project has worked with landowners and volunteers to survey the population and deliver a recovery programme

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Chilterns Commons

Chilterns Commons

There are 170 Commons across the Chilterns AONB, which are much loved features of the area’s natural and cultural heritage.

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Peatland Restoration

Peatland Restoration

The blanket bogs and valley mires of Bodmin Moor are complex ecosystems that support diverse and unique ecology of national and international importance.

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Wheal Buzzy gets Busy

Wheal Buzzy gets Busy

Cornwall AONB has former mine sites which are of great importance to solitary bees and other insects, especially Mining bees which are in major decline across Cornwall

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Glorious Cotswold Grasslands

Glorious Cotswold Grasslands

Glorious Cotswold Grasslands project is aiming to create/restore 100ha wildflower rich grassland.

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Voluntary Wardens

Voluntary Wardens

Voluntary Wardens have done 47,700 hours of work in 2018-19, ranging from improving access and conserving heritage sites to leading guided walks and working with schools.

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South Wiltshire Farmland Bird Project

South Wiltshire Farmland Bird Project

The South Wiltshire Farmland Bird Project has focused on reversing the decline of six farmland bird species, focusing on creating year-round habitat. 147 farmers have received bespoke advice and 1000ha of new habitat has been created.

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Barn Owl Project

Barn Owl Project

The barn owl project has improved habitat and installed barn owl boxes across the AONB. 

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Black Poplar Repopulation

Black Poplar Repopulation

Over 500 of Britain’s rarest tree, the black poplar, have been planted in the Dedham Vale.

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Black Down Restoration

Black Down Restoration

An important site for public access, with great potential for habitat restoration, Black Down needed sympathetic management.

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Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement

Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement

Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement project has restored 467ha heathland, created a 7ha saline lagoon, created or managed 89ha new woodland and protected 25ha of lapwing nesting habitat.

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Looking out for bats

Looking out for bats

East Devon’s Greater Horseshoe bats winter hibernation roost was well protected with SSSI and SAC designation but their summer roosts were unknown.

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Grassroots Action

Grassroots Action

East Devon AONB Sustainable Development Fund has assisted local people and organisations to undertakes active species and habitat management.

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Haytime

Haytime

112ha hay meadow and species rich grassland have been restored through the Forest of Bowland Haytime project, delivered through 'field-scale' meadow restoration, 'pollinator patches' and 'mini-meadows'.

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Priority Peat

Priority Peat

After current programmes are completed, 16,000ha of peatland will have been restored in the Forest of Bowland through the work of the team. The internationally important habitat supports breeding upland birds, including hen harrier, peregrine, merlin, short-eared owl, curlew and ring ouzel.

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Gower Hedgerow Hub

Gower Hedgerow Hub

The Hedgerow Hub works to conserve and protect existing hedgerows and field boundaries, important landscape and biodiversity features, and to re-establish hedgerows along boundaries. The project has maintained 10km of hedgerow by planting, fencing and hedgelaying.

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Calcareous Grassland & Hay Meadow Restoration

Calcareous Grassland & Hay Meadow Restoration

97% of lowland hay meadows lost since WW2 but the condition of 75ha of lowland calcareous grassland has been improved on the limestone of the south Gower cliffs. 

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Weald Meadows Initiative

Weald Meadows Initiative

The High Weald AONB is a known refuge for species-rich grasslands which are scattered across the AONB - jewels in a medieval landscape.

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Upper Rother and Dudwell Deer Project

Upper Rother and Dudwell Deer Project

The High Weald is one of the most densely wooded landscapes in the country with trees covering 30% of the land area and deer are thriving in the landscape's mosaic of small fields, hedgerows and woodlands.

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Exmoor pony grazing project

Exmoor pony grazing project

The Howardian Hills AONB team supported the formation of the Yorkshire Exmoor Pony Trust, who now have a ‘flying herd’ of ponies that conservation graze 7 sites

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Turtle Dove Conservation

Turtle Dove Conservation

The Turtle Dove is our smallest European dove and flies 11,200km from Mali to reach the Howardian Hills each spring. The most northerly stronghold in England is in the North York Moors, but their population has declined in both the UK and Europe to such an extent that there may now be fewer than 100 birds nesting in the whole of Yorkshire.

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Wetland Restoration

Wetland Restoration

8km of the Isle of Wight’s longest river, the Yar have been restored and managed through work led by the AONB team.

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Valley of Visions

Valley of Visions

Through the Valley of Visions Project, 166ha of chalk grassland was restored to careful, sustainable management. As part of this work, over 700 tonnes of scrub were removed and used as biomass fuel

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Denge Wood

Denge Wood

The Duke of Burgundy Fritillary was close to extinction in Kent, found only in low numbers in one site, Denge Wood.

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Lincolnshire Chalk Streams Project

Lincolnshire Chalk Streams Project

Winner of a Bowland Award in 2012, the Lincolnshire Chalk Streams Project has delivered over 29 kilometres of enhancements to riparian habitats and secured over 45 kilometres of adjacent habitat restoration

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Orchard Project

Orchard Project

The Lincolnshire Wolds orchard project engaged 47 owners of old orchards, a BAP priority habitat, surveyed 23 sites and added 3.11ha of orchards to the habitat inventory. It was important to inspire the orchard owners and we spent time discussing the orchard, its history and management, raising awareness of the crop, biodiversity and cultural value.

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Grayling Butterfly back from the brink

Grayling Butterfly back from the brink

Habitat restoration for grayling butterfly in the Malvern Hills AONB resulted in highest grayling numbers for many years in 2017.

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Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project

Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project

34 orchards were restored and 500 new trees planted across key orchard areas of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

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Conserving Black Down

Conserving Black Down

Black Down is the largest area of lowland heath in the AONB and a SSSI. The largest Scheduled Monument in the Mendip Hills, it was 'at risk' from erosion.

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Bracken Down

Bracken Down

An award-winning project has pioneered re-use of bracken, helping protect the largest area of heathland in the AONB which was suffering from bracken dominating other species.

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Glaven Eel Project

Glaven Eel Project

Eels have been at the core of the River Glaven ecology and local culture for hundreds of years but have suffered a steep decline in numbers.

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Coastal Creatures

Coastal Creatures

54 beach cleans across 18 beaches have helped address marine and beach litter in the intertidal zone and on sand dunes, that presents a danger to marine species, seabirds and people.

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Life on the Verge

Life on the Verge

100 volunteers from 15 communities have helped with surveying and managing road verges, a distinctive feature of Devon’s heritage.

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Peatland Restoration

Peatland Restoration

Since 2006, the North Pennines AONB team has led the restoration of 35000ha of drained or bare/eroding peatland – an area 3 x the size of Newcastle.

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Cold-blooded and Spineless

Cold-blooded and Spineless

26,000 new species records were generated through two citizen science projects, with nearly 200 wildlife training events held for volunteers and the wider public.

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Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones

23,000 wildflower plug plants were grown and planted by volunteers to create or improve 344ha of chalk grassland, working with 28 farmers.

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Hungerford Common

Hungerford Common

A series of enhancements have improved Hungerford Common: removal of a line of electricity poles and wires, removal of an incongruous stand of conifers; planting a disease-resistant variety of Elm in an experimental bid to restore what was once a feature of the landscape, and wildflower restoration of six plots totalling 5.59 ha.

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Whin Grasslands

Whin Grasslands

Through the Peregrini Landscape Partnership Scheme and our Coast Care volunteering initiative the AONB Partnership have facilitated the clearance of invasive Gorse from over 3 hectares

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Little terns & barn owls

Little terns & barn owls

Working with Bamburgh Castle, who have provided funding via carrier bag sales, we have provided six new barn owl boxes on farms in the AONB.

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Quantock Landscape Improvement Scheme

Quantock Landscape Improvement Scheme

Corridors have been created to link the and increase the size of priority habitats, specifically lowland heath, sessile oak woods and acidic grasslands.

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Quantock Landscape Development Fund

Quantock Landscape Development Fund

A grant scheme open to landowners, farmers and communities for both landscape and habitat enhancements has delivered 2.2km of new native hedgerows, 3.8km of hedgerows restored, 207 orchard trees, 2.3ha of ponds were restored / created, 4.8Ha of woodland managed / planted, over 1,000 standard native trees planted and 3.5ha of wildflower meadow created

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Rescuing Rocks & Overgrown Relics

Rescuing Rocks & Overgrown Relics

The Stiperstones & Corndon Hill Country Landscape Partnership Scheme the Shropshire Hills restored three UKBAP habitats – Inland Rock Outcrop and Scree, Calaminarian Grassland and Open Mosaic Habitats on Previously Developed Land

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River Clun Recovery Project

River Clun Recovery Project

Through the River Clun Recovery Project, the AONB team have created two Freshwater Pearl Mussel Recovery Sites, created or restored 17.7 km of riparian woodland and habitat and planted over 13,000 riparian trees

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Coastal Dune Recovery

Coastal Dune Recovery

Restoration work on a rare coastal sand dune system with ponds has benefitted natterjack toads, great crested newts and many rare lichens and plants and the areas managed by the AONB team are all now in favourable or recovering condition.

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Saving the Marsh Fritillary

Saving the Marsh Fritillary

Marsh Fritillary Butterflies have increased from 48 in 2007 to 3195 in 2017 as a result of habitat improvements with landowners and with volunteers and school pupils planting 15,000 plug plants of devil’s bit scabious, the food plant of the marsh fritillary.

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Conserving our marine environment

Conserving our marine environment

Conservation of Seagrass meadows over fifteen years has delivered results and in 2019 seagrass beds have been seen to spread.

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Action for Pollinators

Action for Pollinators

Mapping of habitats and ecological networks builds understanding of how pollinator species move through the landscape, and helps target advice and support where a helping hand is most needed.

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Saltmarsh Restoration

Saltmarsh Restoration

Rises in sea level have the potential to adversely impact saltmarsh that is a benefit to fish fry, birds and can contribute significantly to coastal defences.

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Scattered orchards

Scattered orchards

With the aim to plant fruit trees in every parish in the AONB, the team has worked with landowners and parish councils to plant fruit trees for the benefit of the parishioners by the AONB team and its volunteers. Traditional varieties have been planted and local communities have taken over much of the on-going maintenance and literally enjoyed the fruits of their labour.

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Woodland Conservation

Woodland Conservation

Beaver and pine marten will be part of the future woodland conservation in the Wye Valley, one of the largest remaining areas of ancient semi-natural broadleaved woodland in the country.

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Water Vole Conservation

Water Vole Conservation

Wye Valley Water Voles enhanced and connected habitat throughout the AONB. The work included controlling invasive mink on 90kms of rivers and streams and Himalayan Balsam control on a further 50km. Habitat surveys and investigations were carried out, with a view to possible reintroductions.

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Source to Sea

Source to Sea

Source to Sea surveyed the 10 main rivers on the Isle of Anglesey to provide evidence and a database for further action and projects to improve the riparian habitat, wildlife and trout fisheries on these rivers.

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Nutkin ventured, Nutkin gained

Nutkin ventured, Nutkin gained

In 1997 there were just 40 red squirrels left on the island, today there is thought to be 800 individuals which are spread across the whole of Anglesey.

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Wild Watch

Wild Watch

An extensive survey of the AONB will establish baseline ecological data, helped by citizen scientists. This will enable us to understand more about Nidderdale's wildlife and what we need to do to conserve it for future generations. 

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Scilly Seabird Conservation Strategy

Scilly Seabird Conservation Strategy

Over 8000 pairs of 13 different species of seabird regularly breed in Scilly. To help conservation efforts the AONB partnership supported the production of a 5 year conservation strategy for seabirds with partnership members writing and facilitating production of the plan.

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Wonderful Wetlands

Wonderful Wetlands

There are 2 wetland sites on St Mary’s; both are SSSI’s and are very important not only for biodiversity but also to the very fabric of island life. They provide the majority of the drinking water supplies for St Mary’s as well as a flood defence to some key areas of habitation, economy and critical infrastructure.

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Mapping the AONB

Mapping the AONB

Using freely available data from the European Space Agency, the Dorset AONB has mapped existing core habitats identified ecological networks that allow us to better understand species movement through the landscape, and target advice and support where a helping hand is most needed.

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Haytime and Nectarworks

Haytime and Nectarworks

The North Pennines AONB has 40% of all the UK’s species rich upland hay meadows. Through Haytime and Nectarworks, 1120 upland hay meadows have been surveyed, leading to almost 300 management agreements with farmers and almost 400 hectares of habitat restoration.

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Meadows, pastures & verges

Meadows, pastures & verges

The Marches Meadow Group was created to bring together local people who have an interest in conserving meadows and other species-rich grassland, and 27 meadow sites have benefitted

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Chilterns Woodland Project

Chilterns Woodland Project

The Chilterns AONB is heavily wooded with over 21% woodland cover, 60% of these woods are ancient.

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Beef and Butterflies 

Beef and Butterflies 

Beef and Butterflies and Priority Butterflies projects created the farmer-led Blackdown Hills Rough Grazing Association, and initiated collaborative working between livestock graziers, landowners and conservation professionals

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Landscape and Nature for All

Landscape and Nature for All

The programme pulled together 14 UK partners to deliver significant site and species recovery work, research and community engagement, improving 1788 Ha on 151 Kent Downs sites

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Priority Habitats

Priority Habitats

70% of the area is covered by Priority Habitats and 22 of the 56 priority habitats are present in the AONB. The most extensive single priority habitat being intertidal mudflats, covering 2475 ha.

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Small Blue

Small Blue

More than 150 scrapes have been created with a volunteer task force to create habitat for the Small Blue butterfly. This involves removing (scraping) grasses and topsoil mostly manually with spades and then sowing Kidney Vetch seeds.

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