North Wessex Downs AONB, Units 3-4, Denford Manor, Lower Denford, Hungerford, RG17 0UN
01488 685 440 firstname.lastname@example.org
Barn owls are an Amber List Species which means they are of medium conservation concern. Modern farming and forestry practices have meant that there are less natural nest sites available to barn owls. The West Berkshire Barn Owl Group has 20 volunteers including those who have completed training which allows them to monitor barn owls and examine their nest boxes. The Group currently monitor over 120 boxes located in the Pang Valley and in the Kintbury area. This grant enabled the purchase of an additional ladder and materials to fabricate new boxes.
This project purchased a number of community beehives, to raise awareness of how local people can enhance their surroundings to support and increase numbers of pollinator species.
A farmer and well-experienced bee keeper will train volunteers to tend the hives. Educational activities will also take place with local schools and as part of community events. Once established, further colonies will be offered to local parishes to extend the project.
As far as we know, BEE Pewsey is the UK’s first community beehive project!
Once a common sight within the landscape, the traditional orchard habitat is now under serious threat nationally.
As mature, traditionally managed orchards are lost wildlife and biodiversity associated with these orchards such as BAP priority species the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Stag Beetle and Noble Chafer Beetle are also lost.
The aim of this project is to plant a community orchard in the centre of Brightwell cum Sotwell.
This will create a habitat for wildlife associated with traditional orchards, preserving vulnerable heritage apple varieties and providing a green space for villagers to continue the tradition of fruit growing in the village.
ARK have run a series of public events and workshops at Stonebridge Wild River Reserve.
The aim is to engage a wide cross section of the community and reach out to new audiences of all ages and encourage them to 'Discover Stonebridge' and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of this area.
These have included guided walks and talks, bat walks, moth nights, and collaborations with local artists.
The grant also supported the purchase of signage for the reserve made from local wood products.
A grant was awarded to reprint the popular ‘Walks in East Woodhay’ leaflet, first published using the North Wessex Downs walks template in 2011.
The services of the West Berkshire Countryside Society’s conservation groups are in demand throughout the year. Whilst hand tools are generally adequate for most tasks there are occasions when coppicing or scrub clearance requires the removal of overgrown or dead timber for which a chainsaw is more appropriate.
Equipment and training funded by the North Wessex Downs will enable the WBCS to undertake a greater range of tasks at some of the important sites that they help to manage. These include; Grove Pit Common, Leckhampstead; Furze Hill, Hermitage and Ashampstead Common, Ashampstead.
Savernake Forest is of international importance for its ancient trees and lichen populations. The Plantlife project mapped the ancient and veteran trees, including their location and condition enabling targeted management to ensure that the forest can continue to support the rich ancient tree population and associated lichens.
A volunteer monitoring group has been formed which will help deliver valuable and sustainable information about ancient and veteran tree condition. A number of ‘Get a Liking for Lichen’ walks were also held in Savernake.
Some feedback from the events:
The day was well paced, content level was very good with lots of information and practical identification and lovely, knowledgeable 'hosts'. Thoroughly enjoyed the event and would like to attend more.
Great Bedwyn Footpaths Group regularly travel the public rights of way in the parish. The group work together to report any issues and take a lead in ensuring the footpaths and bridleways are well maintained with the aim of ensuring access to this beautiful countryside for all.
Support from the SDF helped the group to purchase tools and equipment in order to maintain rights of way.
The National Trust manages some of the most precious places in the North Wessex Downs. This project aims to improve the amount and quality of information available at three sites - Cherhill Down, Lockeridge Dene and The Coombes at Hinton Parva.
Two of the sites are SSSI, notified for rare chalk grassland habitat, whilst the third is endowed with sarsen beds, with prehistoric & geological interests. Cherhill is also rich archaeologically.
An interpretation panel has been designed to greet visitors at each site main entrance. Each panel has a bird’s eye illustration of the land, plus text and further illustrations to inform, educate and inspire.
Andover Trees United are creating an area of flower rich meadow as part of the habitat mix of Harmony Woods, a community planted woodland near Enham Alamein.
To help with community wildflower planting, the grass is being cut and baled. Removing the grass will help to reduce the nutrient levels in the soil and improve the chances of the flowers to succeed.
Bridleway MARL33 (Treacle Bolly) is an attractive link between Manton and Marlborough which can be used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It provides a safe, quiet link away from the A4. The route is used for both local journeys (such as shopping and to get to Preshute school in Manton) and longer distance journeys as it is part of National Cycle Network (NCN) route 403, which links to Avebury and Chippenham.
The Wiltshire Countryside Access Forum and Transition Marlborough have worked with Wiltshire Council to develop a cycle network across the town using quieter roads and off-road paths where possible. Treacle Bolly forms part of this network but during the winter it can become flooded and very muddy, which makes it difficult and less attractive to use. This project proposes drainage and surfacing works which would enable the path to be accessible year round.
The Pewsey community has shown support for forming a tourism group for the Pewsey Vale. Pewsey Community Area Partnership has since been working with Visit Wiltshire, local groups, Parish Councils and businesses to form the Pewsey Vale Tourism Partnership (PVTP). The purpose of the PVTP is to foster, develop and promote the sustainable growth of tourism and the visitor economy in the Pewsey Vale in a way that minimizes any detrimental impact on both the environment and the local communities.
The initial set of activities includes running a Business Launch event to get local businesses involved in the Partnership, running a campaign to get feedback from local people, creating a logo and brand for the Pewsey Vale and setting up a website. From the output of this work, the Partnership will have an understanding of the priorities for businesses and local communities and help to identify and to prioritise further project ideas.
Working with the North Wessex Downs AONB, Ramsbury Brewery have produced a beer called Honey Bee Nectar.
It is a subtle smoked beer with the underlying sweetness of the honey. The Honey is donated by a local beekeeper whose bees have been fed on the mixed flowers of the Vale of Pewsey.
Ramsbury Brewery would now like to advertise and show the public what they are doing to help preserve the local bee population. This project will produce a 3 part pop up banner to display in the Brewery for the benefit of customers and visitors to conferences and meetings.
The Grade 2 listed boundary wall of the Cemetery at St Edmunds Church in Pewsey was in urgent need of repair. Working with the local Conservation Officer, the Parish Council made the wall safe and undertook restoration.
The West Berkshire Farming and Countryside Project are working on various enhancement projects along the River Pang with landowners and partner organisations. These include improving biodiversity, flood resilience, education and public access on this rare chalk stream. As identified in a recent plan to improve the condition of the Pang, this project cleared a stretch of bank of encroaching brambles. In addition to improving the river ecosystem, it improved access along a very well used public footpath along the river between Bucklebury and Stanford Dingley.
The project was established to monitor important bat colonies around Savernake Forest. A grant was awarded to purchase equipment to enable study of the breeding Barbastelle bat colony and autumn/winter surveys of a disused railway tunnel, one of the most important hibernation sites for Natterer’s bat in the UK.
Supporting these key components, Wiltshire Bat Group has undertaken additional surveys including trapping surveys in the Savernake Forest (for example, around the ponds) to assess species foraging within the Forest, and also detailed radiotracking studies to facilitate the location of Barbastelle roosts within the veteran oaks for which the Forest is notified SSSI.
A geophysical survey of two possible Roman sites at Wyfield and Mudhall, was conducted with support from the SDF. These two sites in the parish of Boxford are included in West Berkshire Council's Historic Environment Record although the listings are based on investigations in the 19th century. Members of BARG ( Berkshire Archaeological Research Group) and local volunteers from Boxford worked together using gradiometers and resistivity meters to accomplish the survey. The aim of the survey is to ascertain and report the possible date, use and scale of the two Roman sites and compare and contrast them with the Roman villa discovered at Hoar Hill in 2013.
Further research of these Roman sites will raise interest, awareness and understanding of a substantial Roman settlement within the parish which benefits not only the immediate area but is of some national interest. It is hoped that any significant finds would be kept in Boxford's new Heritage Centre - construction of which starts at the end of May.