The North Wessex Downs AONB Management Plan presents objectives and policies that partners can apply to help conserve and enhance this nationally important landscape. The Plan also contains priorities that the North Wessex Downs team intends to lead or carry out with others. The Plan is available as one document but we have also split the document into chapters for easier downloading if required.
This highlights our work to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the designated landscape for the benefit of those living, working or visiting in and around this special place.
This report is an evaluation report of the BeWILD Project, an ancient woodland management project delivered across Berkshire from 2008-2011. The Report pulls together the successes and achievements of the BeWILD Project, and aims to share the experiences and findings from the Project for the benefit of those involved in new and existing woodland management in Berkshire and beyond. It has been written in an accessible toolkit format with case studies, project summary tables, and Top Tips for woodland projects boxes. It contains guidance on woodland management for wildlife, timber production, marketing and woodfuel, as well as lots of links to woodland and woodfuel organisations and guidance material. The Report is designed to be dipped into and read at different levels depending on the reader’s interest and time. Written and produced by Meg Chambers, Karen Davies and Mel Hardie.
This research develops a target area approach to landscape scale restoration of the arable habitat and associated species, whilst identifying management strategies to enhance and extend these biodiversity hotspots. It was initially published in 2008, and updated in February 2010.
A report published in 2005 to build a clear picture of the extent, status and condition of chalk grassland within the AONB and to set a clear strategy for its management. It continues to form the baseline for work conducted through the North Wessex Downs ‘Big Chalk’ project.
The North Wessex Downs is home to one of just six populations of the shrill carder bee in England and Wales. It is vital to retain and expand habitat in these areas to prevent the national extinction of this native bumblebee. Bumblebees need large areas of pollen and nectar rich flowers in order to forage and areas of long grass or hedgerows in which to nest. This leaflet, produced in partnership with Bumblebee Conservation outlines measures that can be taken through environmental stewardship to provide such habitat.
Calcareous grassland is a Biodiversity Action Plan habitat and a key habitat for the North Wessex Downs landscape. Traditionally grazed by sheep, cattle and rabbits these areas support a wide range of species including orchids, blue butterflies and skylarks. Today small isolated blocks of chalk grassland are mainly found on steep slopes and around archaeological sites. A number of these sites are losing their biodiversity due to a lack of appropriate management i.e. grazing animals. This report aims to highlight the importance of grazing these important grassland sites by helping match land with stock.
Environmental Stewardship encourages the use of native and local seed for chalk grassland creation and restoration and a supplement for using native seed mixes is available. This research explored the viability of seed collection sites within the three target areas of Horton Downs, Hampshire Downs and the Letcombe to Liddington escarpment.
Veteran Trees Project
Veteran Trees can tell us tales of their lives, of when they were planted and what they provided for the people who lived near them. They can tell how the land was used and give clues to the age of the landscape features they stand on. To add to this, their scars and rugged barks provide homes and food supplies for a multitude of wildlife from fungi and invertebrates to birds and mammals. These leaflets provide information of the veteran trees at Bucklebury and Ashampstead.
Woodland Archaeology Handbook
Woodlands play a vital contribution to the natural and cultural heritage of the NWD and include nationally important examples of wood pasture, historic parkland, ancient and semi-natural woodland as well as more recent plantations and shelter-belts. Perhaps surprisingly, very little is known about the archaeology within these woodlands. Because of the tree canopy, even large features are hidden from air photographic surveys, while a general lack of access also plays a part. Woodland Archaeology is a relatively new area in archaeological research. Methods of fieldwork are still developing, and it is expected that this project will develop and change over time as a result of volunteer feedback.
In partnership with Oxfordshire Geology Trust and Berkshire Geoconservation Group, we have produced a leaflet to demonstrate the diversity building materials such as chalk, sarsen, flints and clay used over the centuries to create the built environment. The aim is to raise awareness of the need for geoconservation in terms of landscape and architecture. Why not download the leaflet and see if you can find any examples where you live?
Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) is an archaeological method used to define and map the historic and archaeological dimension of the present day landscape. It forms part of a National Programme developed by English Heritage in the early nineties and is continually evolving with ongoing development and changes in methodology, technology and application. The North Wessex Downs Historic Landscape Characterisation dataset was completed in 2006.
Geographically the parishes of Fyfield and West Overton are unique within the Marlborough Community Area: they contain four different landscape character areas - Kennet Valley, Marlborough Downs, Horton Downs and the Savernake Plateau. A group of local people, mainly associated with the Fyfield & West Overton Parish Council, formed a "Landscape Group" with the objective of informing themselves, and subsequently the local community, about the unique features and heritage of the local landscape, and to record what they found. The report was distributed locally as well as sold to benefit a range of local projects.
This study, which encompasses the entire AONB area, was approved by the North Wessex Downs AONB Council of Partners on 31st March 2006. It is used by local planning authorities in the AONB to help develop policies for their new local development frameworks (LDFs) and has been used as a material consideration in planning applications for the erection of wind turbines. The study considers the sensitivities of each of the landscape types in the AONB to different forms and heights of wind turbines and identifies the key constraints to this form of development.
The geodiversity of the North Wessex Downs AONB underpins almost every aspect of the AONB’s character and dramatically influences the landscape which we see today. From the rolling hills of the chalk downland with their dry valleys to the characteristic chalk buildings and the puzzles of the sarsen stones. The influence of the North Wessex Downs geodiversity on the landscape has long been appreciated but the value of the geodiversity for recreation, land management and education has been overlooked. The Local Geodiversity Action Plan will help to promote the value of our geodiversity and the benefits that its conservation and promotion can bring to our appreciation and enjoyment of the beauty of the North Wessex Downs.
Chalk Links Factsheets
Much of the North Wessex Downs is underlain by Chalk. Chalk is a soft white limestone traversed by layers of flint. It consists of minute calcareous shells and shell fragments which are the remains of plankton which floated in clear, sub-tropical seas covering most of Britain during the Upper Cretaceous, between 95 and 65 million years ago. Geology groups across the region have produced a series of fact sheets explaining how the underlying chalk affects other characteristic features of this unique area including landscape, soils, land use, industry, hydrology & archaeology. Please click below to download each factsheet.
Landscape Character Assessment
The integrated Landscape Character Assessment establishes the identity of the AONB as a whole and provides a summary of the main influences on contemporary landscape character. These include physical, cultural, ecological, social and economic characteristics. It also includes a review of perceptions of the AONB. This Technical Report presents the results of the range of studies that have investigated the physical, ecological, historical, social, economic and cultural, and recreational characteristics of the AONB.
The North Wessex Downs Film
Linking to other relevant websites is a good way to promote the area to visitors by giving them multiple reasons to come, plus information on how to get there. Within the sections you will find some useful web links related to the content. These addresses can be added as links to your website or included on your printed material. You can also link to our Facebook, Twitter and events pages.
Copy and text for your website or leaflet
Selecting the text from the page to paste into your Microsoft Word or website template is very easy. Option 1 - You can copy and paste direct from the PDF. Simply highlight the text you want with your mouse, right click the mouse, click ‘copy’ from the menu that appears and then paste into your document. If you just paste the text into Word it will contain the formatting from the original document. To match your existing copy formatting simply select ‘Paste Special’ from menu bar and ‘Unformatted Text’. You may also need to add or delete carriage returns to suit your layout. Option 2 - You can download the text for each section as a Microsoft Word document below:
Many people who visit the area are not aware that they are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or how extensive the area is. Providing a map with points of interest is a very simple way to encourage visitors to stay longer and visit more attractions. The more business web sites and brochures that promote the area, the more business there will be for everybody. We are offering a choice of maps for you to use. To download the full size versions, right click on JPEG or PDF and select 'Save Link As'.
Logos and Images
The Logo is provided here in JPEG format, which is the most common to use. Other versions are available on request (PDF, PNG EPS, TIFF).
The visitor charter is a one page document which you can pop in your bedroom browser to remind visitors to think of the environment during their visit.
Tourism Business Toolkit
There are two versions of the toolkit - one aimed primarily at Visitors to the area, and the other specifically for businesses.
Goring and Streatley station is the gateway to the Goring Gap, a natural corridor carved through the chalk some 12,000 years ago. With its fully accessible facilities the station is the ideal starting point for visitors with limited mobility to sample the river and countryside of the Thames valley.
The Countryside Code has been updated and provides lots of advice for visitors to the countryside.
Where to go, what to see, and a map of the area.
Find out more about this special forest with its unique history and many ancient trees.
This event for owners of under-managed woodland was held in May 2017. This report includes details of the proceedings plus links to more information. It is a useful document for any woodland owner who needs some advice on how to improve the management of their wood.
This report, published in 2005 outlines the extent and character of existing woodland within the AONB. It aims to assess the condition of the existing woodland resource, the nature and type of any management and the contribution that woodlands make to the cultural, biological and landscape character. Finally, the report identifies, at a strategic level, the needs and priorities for woodland management in the North Wessex Downs.
Traditionally, hedges provided a variety of wood products including firewood, but as labour became more expensive and wood was replaced by fossil fuels, the practice of managing hedges for firewood was lost. Following recent rises in oil and gas costs and concerns about climate change, there is a growing interest in reviving the economic value of hedgerows through managing them once again for woodfuel, mainly through coppicing. This best practice guide, developed in partnership with the TWECOM project aims to demonstrate the benefits of managing hedges for woodfuel. It contains guidance regarding wildlife, techniques, machinery and legal aspects of management. This project is supported by the North Wessex Downs Sustainable Development Fund.
To see the relationship between Districts, Boroughs, Unitary Authorities and Wards and Parishes, use this map. (Date last updated: May 2019)
Wayfaring is a journey of exploration inspired by the chalk landscape and ancient routes of the Icknield Way. Find out more at wayfaring.org.uk.