A stunning landscape rich in wildlife, history and community, provides us with many services; only by supporting the things that keep it special can these vital services be provided into the future.
This page provides a summary of our work in this area during the 2013-14 financial year.
Our landscape provides us with food, jobs, timber and building materials from farming, forestry, grouse moor management and small-scale quarrying for local stone. The high quality landscape also underpins the area’s visitor economy which indirectly supports many local services. So our work that is outwardly about nature conservation underpins the economy too.
In addition to working to sustain ‘nature’s supply chain’, we have continued to develop and support ventures of all kinds which support local businesses and add value to the local economy.
- We have helped to develop Northern Lands, a tourism infrastructure and marketing project with the North East’s three Protected Landscape management bodies and two Destination Management Organisations.
- We have expanded our traineeship programme, bringing young people into employment in conservation.
- We have taken a bold step towards increasing our relationships with the corporate sector – there are no ‘quick wins’ in this work and it is about fostering long-term relationships which will benefit the environment of the North Pennines.
Some of our achievements this year:
We continued to work in partnership with Teesdale Marketing Ltd and others to deliver the final year of the Lovefood project. Over four years, the project has:
- achieved new routes to market for 32 producers
- advised 110 businesses
- provided one-to-one support to 258 farmers
- directly benefitted 499 businesses
- involved 18 organisations
- provided 57 volunteer opportunities
- provided 214 cookery sessions/workshops
- created four food trails and a range of other promotional material
- and directly involved 4,878 adults and children in food related activity.
Heritage Landscape Skills Project
This is the final year of a five year project funded by £165,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund comprising practical skill training and bursaries in dry stone walling for nine people and scientific and knowledge based skill training for four people.
- In February 2014, we recruited our fourth Conservation and Land Management Trainee, Claire Hutchinson who has worked with several Staff Team members on peatland restoration work and has helped with the AONB Partnership’s Nectarworks project, Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership Scheme and Altogether Archaeology project.
- Claire has also been on placement with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Trust and the Wear Rivers Trust.
- In March 2014 we recruited our final three dry stone walling trainees; they are working at Garrigill, Tow Law, Cross Fell and Burnhope.
Our three former Conservation and Land Management trainees have all found jobs. Seven of the nine walling trainees are still employed in walling.
We are three years into a five year programme of Dark Sky Discovery Site designation (we have 13 designated sites and a further four pending) working with Durham University, local astronomers and Edinburgh Observatory.
Starting towards the end of the financial year we began working with the Northern Lands project to improve access to dark skies for everyone living in the North Pennines and to share the opportunity to enjoy our fabulous darkness with our visitors. This is a £120K project stretching across the northern hills from our southern boundary to Kielder Observatory including; Star makers, business development for tourism operators and more.
A substantial investment in development of a range of tourism initiatives was agreed in 2013 and will be completed during 2014.
- The programme is designed to improve the experience of visitors to the protected landscapes and to widen the range of things to do.
- Through a wide partnership which includes the other Protected Landscapes and the Destination Management Organisations for the area, money will be invested in the development of an electric bike network, dark skies tourism, new food trails and infrastructure improvements at Hamsterley Forest.
- The Northern Lands programme also includes Sense of Place training for tourism businesses.
- This project is supported by the Rural Development Programme for England, for which Defra is the managing authority, part financed by The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas. Additional support has come from a wide range of regional public and private sector stakeholders.
- We have started to build relationships with both national and multi-national companies in an attempt to secure significant, long-term investment into the work of the North Pennines AONB Partnership. This work has included.
- Engaging different companies in different ways – e.g. top level corporate social responsibility strategy, supply chain sustainability, employee engagement.
- Supporting a Nestles employee engagement event at which we introduced over 600 employees to the work of the AONB Partnership and the variety of volunteering opportunities that exist within our projects.
- Took part in ASDA’s ‘Sustain and Save Exchange’ event, a national project which brings the producers in ASDA’s supply chain together to tackle sustainability issues.
- Working with local businesses to gain financial support for different elements of our projects, for example Addisons Chartered Surveyors who donated money and staff time to carry out a habitat creation project at Bowlees Visitor Centre.
- Receiving funding from the Community Foundation (Tyne & Wear & Northumberland) Local Environment Action Fund to support restoration work in the Allen Valleys.
- Raising our profile within the business community and creating new networks – e.g. joining the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), attending many business networking groups and sitting on three NECC committees (Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland).
- Working with the Community Foundation on a profile raising campaign amongst their funders.
Creating new partnerships and investigating collaboration with other prominent attractions in the north such as Durham Cathedral, Auckland Castle, and Beamish Museum to enhance fundraising power.
- Playing a critical role in identifying the opportunities for private and commercial investment into land-based carbon projects.
- Active involvement in IUCN pilot Peatland Project and undertaking privately commissioned work to understand the commercial value of peat restoration.