Welcome to the February 2016 E-Bulletin


Beneath the Milky Way

Stargazing in the Cranborne Chase AONB

Stargazing at Kingston Deverill - 8th February 2016
The rain and gales of early February left floods and fallen branches, but they also swept away the dust and particulates that stamp a slight haze on a starry sky. The AONB's stargazing evening on February 8th took place under beautifully transparent skies, and from the Kingston Deverill Village Hall visitors and members of the Wessex Astronomical Society (WAS) shared telescopes and binoculars and admired starry vistas.

After a talk on winter skies by WAS member Bob Mizon, observers, when dark-adapted, saw the Milky Way, our home galaxy, arching high across the sky. Winter's 'signature' constellation, Orion, with his hydrogen nebula in which stars are being made, dominated the southern sky, and the Plough, the Pole Star and Cassiopeia sparked a discussion on how and why everything moves!

Other highlights included the brilliant orange-red Garnet Star in Cepheus, and wonderful clusters of sparkling gems: the Pleiades, the Beehive Cluster and the Double Cluster in Perseus.

This event underlined the fact that the Cranborne Chase AONB is indeed the darkest patch of south central England, beneath beautiful skies that need careful preservation from the excesses of light pollution. The AONB team continues its quest to gain International Dark Sky Reserve status for the AONB within the next 18 months.
We all look forward to the next event at the New Remembrance Hall, Charlton at 7.30 on March 9th. If you'd like to come along (free event) please book a place: info@cranbornechase.org.uk or telephone 01725 517417.

Bob Mizon
British Astronomical Association - Commission for Dark Skies.

Local Action Group

The Heart of Wessex LAG

The Heart of Wessex LAG has £1.74 million to invest in local businesses and organisations to help them carry out projects which create jobs, help the business to grow and which bring long term benefit to the rural economy.

On the 16th of March at Stourton Memorial Hall, nr Mere, you will have an opportunity to join in and help decide where the money is spent.

Funding will be available for the following priorities:

  • Support to increase farm productivity
  • Support for micro and small business and farm diversification
  • Support for rural tourism
  • Provision of rural services
  • Support for cultural and heritage activity
  • Support for increasing forestry productivity

Space will be limited so please book your place now!:http://tiny.cc/awhe9x
Wednesday 16th March 2016 at 6pm Stourton Memorial Hall, nr Mere, BA12 6QE

Free AONB leaflets

Free AONB leaflets

There are two new Cranborne Chase AONB leaflets; one sets out the basics about what the AONB is, what the AONB Partnership does and has a great map inside. The second is all about Dark Night Skies, the benefits and how you can help gain International Dark Sky Reserve status for the area.

If you run a B&B, pub, shop or know somewhere that would like to have these leaflets on offer, especially with Easter and springtime fast approaching, please contact the AONB team on 01725 517417 or email info@cranbornechase.org.uk leaving your name, address for postage and how many you would like.

We'll get them to you as soon as possible!

Bringing history and nature together

Tree in Savernake forest

Local archaeologist and historian Graham Bathe and ancient tree expert Ted Green will be conducting a tour of parts of Savernake on July 16 (10am - 4pm) to discuss the history and archaeology of this, one of Europe's oldest woodlands. This is a fantastic opportunity to admire some of the largest deciduous trees left in the whole of Europe in the company of two renowned experts.

Savernake was first mentioned in the Saxon charters in AD 940 and established as a royal hunting forest shortly after the Norman Conquest. It is unique in having been in the hands of a single family from Domesday (AD 1080) to the present time, contributing to the preservation of thousands of documents which help interpret the landscape today.

The tour will combine observation (tree shape and archaeology, signs in the landscape, species composition, LiDAR images) with the documentary evidence that survives for this site like no other. Participants will be able to investigate how influences such as Roman occupation, commoning, social unrest during the baronial wars of King John, management of the royal hunting forest, landscaping by Capability Brown, the second world war and modern policies have shaped the forest we see today.

If you want to attend this event, do not call the AONB office, but email the Royal Forestry Society events@rfs.org.uk

'Taste the Chase'

Cranborne Chase AONB launches event to highlight local food and drink

Taste the Chase

A new food fair celebrating local food and drink is set to bring producers, retailers and customers together to showcase products made in the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Cheeses, artisan bread, fish, meats, biscuits, cakes, and a refreshing cider or a mellow glass of wine - it sounds like the perfect ingredients for a summer picnic on the stunning Cranborne Chase. But did you know that all of these delicious local products are actually made in the Cranborne Chase area?

To raise awareness of the range of quality local food and drink produced locally, the AONB, in partnership with the South West Wiltshire Area Board, are hosting a Food Fair at the Larmer Tree Gardens on Wednesday 20th April to bring producers and retailers and consumers together.

During the morning local businesses who use or supply foods, including pubs, restaurants, B&Bs, hotels, farm shops, village stores and supermarkets will be invited to meet the producers and sample and learn more about locally produced food with a view to including it on their menus, or stocking it in their stores.

From 1pm the Food Fair will be open to the general public, no need to bring a picnic, there will be lots of food on offer and the stunning Larmer Tree Gardens will be open to explore, so people can enjoy a wonderful afternoon out discovering the taste of the Chase.

To find out more about the event, or to register your interest in attending or taking a stand (free to producers in the Cranborne Chase AONB area), please get in touch with Rachel Limb who is organising the event on behalf of the AONB. Rachel can be reached on 07976 222260, or email rachel@whitesheepprojects.co.uk.

Biodiversity researchers ask for crucial farmer feedback

Biodiversity researchers

James McGinlay of Cranfield University, who is part of the Wessex Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services Sustainability research group, is investigating how the countryside and nature in Wiltshire affect people's sense of wellbeing. For this research they would like to interview farmers in the county about their role in managing the Wiltshire countryside and landscapes. If you would be happy to participate in our research, then they would like to hear from you.

Interviews will take between 1 - 1.5 hours at a time and place completely at your convenience, and will focus on how you as a Wiltshire farmer make decisions about how to manage your land for food production, nature conservation or any other land use. They would like to conduct the interviews as soon as possible.

All interviews will be in strict confidence and any information that is made public from the interviews will be reported anonymously. This means that your personal identity and the name and address of your farm will not be disclosed in any distributed, archived or published material resulting from this research. You will of course have the right to withdraw from this research at any time, and your responses will be used only for academic, non-commercial purposes.

The research is intended to explore future options for managing the links between farming and wildlife in a way that better recognises the role of farmers as food producers and custodians of the countryside. Findings are intended to inform future government policy aimed at assisting farmers in balancing their competing land management requirements and in maximising the benefits that they get from their land. For more information on the Wessex BESS project please go to www.brc.ac.uk/wessexbess/home.

If you would like to discuss this research and the possibility of participating, please call James McGinlay on 01234 758125 or 07913 503223, or send an email to j.mcginlay@cranfield.ac.uk. Don't call the AONB Office, go straight to James.

This research project offers Wiltshire farmers the opportunity to contribute to the evidence base upon which national, international and local policies that affect land management are based. Without good evidence, we cannot have good policy: so please offer James an hour or two of your time if you possibly can.

Better Protection for Hedgehogs?

Better Protection for Hedgehogs

We appear to have lost around 30% of our hedgehog population since 2002 and it seems likely that there are now fewer than a million hedgehogs left in the UK, when there used to be over 36 million of them in the 1950's.

There is now a move to try and positively help our 'hogs' by adding them to Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. This would confer more protection to hedgehog habitat, possibly by developers having to consider hedgehogs before/when they build.

To find out more about how you can help your local hogs and about this new move for better protection, visit 'Hedgehog Street' at www.hedgehogstreet.org.

Projects Update

Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones

The Stepping Stones project, based with the Chilmark Horticultural Society, has been quietly growing plants over the last year. We have 348 plants, species such as salad burnet, bird's-foot trefoil and kidney vetch, to plant out. We will be organising a day in March to do this on Pertwood Farm. Pertwood is ideally placed close to the superb species-rich grasslands around Mere Down and Whitesheet Hill, linking them with the smaller areas of grassland on the West Wiltshire Downs between the Wylye and Nadder Valleys.

We could do with some help! Can you join the AONB team in March in planting out these carefully tended plants? If you would like to get involved in what we are sure will be an inspiring day, then please get in touch with David Blake davidblake@cranbornechase.org.uk

Foundations of Archaeology

The Foundations of Archaeology Project has been very active this month. Unfortunately, our proposed clearance work party day on the Wor Barrow on Handley Down had to be postponed due to the truly foul weather at the beginning of the month. This will be re-scheduled for later in March. Watch the blog for news of this.

Foundations of Archaeology

On the 13th February, David Dawson of the Wiltshire Museum (Devizes) arranged a special visit to the collections and archives of the museum and on 20th February Claire Pinder, Dorset County Archaeologist, took a guided walk along the Bokerley Dyke

At the end of this month, on the 27th February, we will have a fantastic day at Stourhead in search of Sir Richard Colt-Hoare. We will be ably guided by experts from the National Trust in this rare opportunity to get behind the scenes and under the skin of this fascinating property and its most illustrious inhabitant.

For more information, and to book on to this and any future events, please log onto the blog here: www.foundationsofarchaeology.wordpress.com/

Grants and Funding

Free Trees for School, Community & Youth Groups

Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust has 3,250 free tree packs to give away to schools, community and youth groups this autumn. The free tree packs are available for planting on one publicly accessible site. Each pack is worth £30, £105 or £420. All applicants need to do is find a suitable site and supply the volunteer planters and tree protection. The packs come in different mixes of tree species so applicants can choose the best one for their project.

Applications by community groups and schools for November delivery close on 7th September 2016.
Read more at: http://tiny.cc/0vie9x.

Funding to Support the Development of Neighbourhood Plans

The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced a new £22.5 million grants programme to support communities looking to develop neighbourhood plans.

Neighbourhood plans can be used in determining planning applications, and 'neighbourhood development orders' that grant planning permission; and vote them into force in a referendum. Through the programme neighbourhood planning groups will be able to apply for grant of up to £14,000 to pay for events to engage the local community, print leaflets and to pay for specialist planning expertise. The support programme runs to 2018 and from April it will also provide community groups with technical assistance and expert advice to support new neighbourhood plans and neighbourhood development orders, throughout the process.

Applications can be submitted at any time. Read more at: http://tiny.cc/gzie9x

Garfield Weston Foundation

The Garfield Weston Foundation helps small, local community organisations and covers a wide range of charitable activity. Areas funded include: education, arts, health, environment, community, youth, religion and welfare.

Grants of up to £50,000 are available. There are no formal deadlines for submitting applications. Read more at: www.garfieldweston.org.

Woodward Charitable Trust

The Trust awards grant funding to small-scale, locally-based charitable initiatives in the UK in the following areas: children and young people; minority groups including refugees, gypsies and travellers; prisoners and ex-offenders; disability; homelessness; arts outreach; and environmental projects especially were they have a strong educational element.

The Woodward Charitable Trust Grants are provided by the Woodward Charitable Trust and administered by the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. The Trust offers the following types of funding:

  • Small grants of between £100 and £5,000 (around 100 grants are made per year).
  • Large grants of over £5,000 (around five grants are made per year).

Read more at: www.woodwardcharitabletrust.org.uk.

Start Up Grants for Heritage Projects

Not-for-profit organisations and partnerships can apply for Start-up grants of £3,000 to £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The funds can be used to create a new organisation to look after or engage people with heritage, or for existing groups to take on new responsibilities for heritage.

Start-up grants can support the early stages of planning an organisation's activities. For organisations not yet formally constituted, the grants can help to adopt the right governance structure. For organisations further along in their development, a Start-up grant can also help explore options for managing and sustaining their heritage project in the future, or carrying out early scoping work to inform a future application for project funding.

Applications can be submitted at any time and will be assessed within eight weeks. Read more at: http://tiny.cc/13ie9x

Stay Informed!

To stay informed about all grants available to businesses and communities in the AONB, subscribe to our free weekly blog updates - all grant & funding updates go on there - it's all combined into a single email per week: http://www.ccwwdaonb.org.uk/news-events/latest-from-the-blog/

Other News & Events

Foundations of Archaeology event
A visit to Stourhead in search of Sir Richard Colt-Hoare. A programme has been put together by the National Trust - what a day it's going to be - with three NT experts to guide and inform us us. Restaurant or packed lunches at midday. Find out more at: http://tiny.cc/cije9x

Date: Saturday 27th February 2016
Location: Stourhead Gardens, Stourton, Wiltshire BA12 6QF
Time: 10am

The Heart of Wessex LAG meeting
The Heart of Wessex LAG has £1.74 million to invest in local businesses and organisations to help them carry out projects which create jobs, help the business to grow and which bring long term benefit to the rural economy. JOIN US AND HELP DECIDE WHERE THE MONEY IS SPENT.
Space will be limited so please book your place now!::http://tiny.cc/awhe9x

Date: Wednesday 16th March 2016
Location: Stourton Memorial Hall, nr Mere, BA12 6QE
Time: 6pm

Star-Gazing Events

Support for Dark Night Skies status is continuing to grow - wrap up warm, come whatever the weather, and listen to Bob Mizon explain the wonders of our incredible dark night skies with its amazing stars and planets.

Date: 9th March 2016
Location: New Remembrance Hall, Charlton, SP7 0PL
Time: 8pm – 10pm

Date: 31st March 2016
Location: Ansty PYO and Farm Shop, Salisbury, SP3 5PX
Time: 8pm – 10pm

Please book a place by emailing info@cranbornechase.org.uk or by calling the office on 01725 517417.

For further information, pledge your support or where to find free star charts go to: www.ccwwdaonb.org.uk/our-work/dark-night-skies. Also, search online for various free downloadable star gazing apps for your mobile.

Annual Planning and Transportation Seminar

Annual Planning and Transportation Seminar

'Landscapes in Planning'
Conserving and enhancing natural beauty are the purposes of AONB designation so planning has a big role in making that happen. Success requires a focus on landscapes, wildlife, and heritage assets which involves a range of professional skills and community engagement.

This seminar is aimed at planners, landscape architects, and highway staff in public service and commercial consultancy, together with developers and their agents, and community members and their representatives. Find out more at: http://tiny.cc/q9je9x.

Attendance at this event is by booking only - to get a booking form, please email shirleymerrick@cranbornechase.org.uk.

Date: Tuesday 10th May 2016
Location: Sixpenny Handley Village Hall, Common Road, SP5 5NJ
Time: 9:30am – 4:15pm

And Finally...


Bird of the Month - Is.....The Lapwing

My parents weren't birdwatchers but I do remember that my grandad had a big hardback copy of a 'Guide to British and European Birds' which I used to love looking through. My first bird memory was seeing large flocks of lapwing feeding on fields by a river whilst out with my dad on a winter morning. It was such an arresting sight especially when they all took off and the sun highlighted the green iridescence on their wings.

The characteristic tumbling display flights in the spring accompanied by that unique pee-wit call is very evocative to me. The name lapwing is thought to come from two Anglo Saxon words. One means to reel, the other to leap which certainly describes the flight of a lapwing! They have many colloquial names across England including peewit, green plover and flopwing. They are inventive birds and will feign broken wings in order to draw potential predators away from their young.

Lapwing are one of surprisingly large number of birds that nest on the ground. This makes them vulnerable to a number of threats including carrion crows, foxes, rats and even inquisitive dogs. Whilst wild animals will eat eggs and young chicks, dogs particularly working breeds such as spaniels, will sniff out nests and disturb sitting adults. Untended eggs can become chilled very quickly which will cause the developing chick inside to die. Keeping dogs on leads or close to you whilst out walking can aid chick survival and ensure we all get to enjoy these beautiful birds. Although they are classed as waders and favour wet grassland, lapwing also occupy 'dry' farmland nesting in large open arable fields avoiding trees and hedges where hungry eyes can spy their nests.

Traditionally lapwing chose fields occupied by spring sown crops as autumn sown cereals have grown too thick and tall by March when breeding starts. The large reduction in spring cropping has reduced nesting areas for these and other ground-nesting species like skylark. Farmers across the AONB are helping to secure the future of this iconic bird by leaving large (2 acres plus) unsown areas in their biggest fields to allow the bird to nest and forage for insects. The rare stone curlew also uses these 'fallow plots' most of which are funded through Natural England's Environmental Stewardship Scheme. Winter is the best time to see these beautiful birds as our native birds are joined by large flocks from Scandinavia drawn here to feast on insects found in the soil, both on cereal stubbles and on grassland next to rivers and on wetland reserves like Langford Lakes in the Wylye Valley.

Tracy Adams - South Wiltshire Farmland Conservation Project (SWFCP)



AONB Office, Shears Building, Stone Lane Industrial Estate, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 1HD
Tel: 01725 517417 | Email: info@cranbornechase.org.uk | Web: www.ccwwdaonb.org.uk

























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