Working the Land
Farming and Forestry
Eighty-nine percent of the AONB is farmland. Half of this area is cropped and about a third is grazed, the rest is mostly woodland and set aside land. It is managed in typically large land holdings, there are only eight hundred and forty holdings covering about ninety-eight thousand hectares and a third of these are less than five hectares. Of the thirty-two thousand AONB residents, only six percent are employed in agriculture.
A sustained period of low farm incomes has lead to, among other things, an amalgamation of holdings into larger units and the sale of land to non-farmers. This has been going on as farms try to diversify into non-agricultural enterprises and have concentrated on game shooting to the extent that game cover crops have had a significant visual impact.
Raising Our Game - Game Review
Raising Our Game is the report generated by a Game Conservation Survey undertaken between 2005 -2007. The Game Conservation Survey was born out of the need to gain greater understanding of all aspects of game management within the AONB combined with the advent of the Sustainable Development Fund (SDF).
If we are to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape within the AONB, then we must understand the forces that have shaped it over the last millennium and which continue to drive changes in the landscape now and in the future. All the land in the AONB is privately owned so we must work together with land managers and the wider community to gain an understanding of how game and its management are sustaining landscape character and identify areas where game management requires assistance to remain sustainable.
Raising Our Game (PDF, 2Mb)
Ancient Woodland Priority Area
The AONB has been identified as an Ancient Woodland Priority Area by the Forestry Commission (from 2009 onwards).
Ancient woodlands and trees represent a living cultural heritage, a natural equivalent to our great churches and castles. They are also our richest wildlife habitat and are highly valued by people as places of tranquility and inspiration.
The Forestry Commission are seeking to protect and enhance the ancient and native woodlands of the South West and increase the area of native woodland. This is achieved by offering grants under the English Woodland Grant Scheme and by working in partnership with organisation such as this AONB.
For more details see the Forestry Commission Website.
The AONB has helped to part fund the "Coordinated Woodfuel Initative" this scheme provides advice on using wood fuel.
Wood fuel has three main advantages: -
- It helps to reduce heating bills
- It is sustainable and environmentally friendly when compared to fossil fuels - using wood fuel massively reduces your carbon footprint
- It encourages the sustainable management of woodlands within the AONB
For more details, please see the document below, prepared by the South Wood Fuel Advice Service:
A Guide to Small Scale Biomass Heating Projects (PDF, 700Kb)
Woodland - Mapping woodland and providing evidence and advice
In 2008 a new project was started entitled "The Trees and Woodlands of the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs: a landscape view". This document is aimed primarily at land owners and managers, advisers and consultants, but also those people who want to better understand how we came to came to our landscape view. This document will help by providing an evidence base that justifies landscape scale working. The forester or landowner will then be able to make better decisions about their own sites.
As part of this project, a new dataset was created which identifies all the woodland in the AONB, regardless of size. All the different kinds of woodland habitat that are found in the AONB have been recorded including features such as wooded scrub on the sides of chalk escarpments, small copses in the corners of fields and small ornamental plantations within the setting of larger designed landscapes.
The project methodology can be downloaded below:
Woodland Project Methodology (PDF, 1Mb)