This year we supported thirteen projects including conservation, arts and education initiatives, by allocating just under £38,000 of grants. Projects were submitted by a variety of groups and individuals, all of whom were seeking to live and work more sustainably within our outstanding landscape. If you would like more details of any of these projects please contact cathy [dot] hopley [at] lancashire [dot] gov [dot] uk
A project delivered by Ribble Rivers Trust (http://www.ribbletrust.org.uk ) and based along the River Hodder around Newton in Bowland. A grant of £2764 enabled the Trust to improve the banks in order to bring back riverine species. Existing trees were selectively felled and secured to the banks to provide habitat and shelter, and to reduce bank erosion. This improvement project should enable river dwelling mammals like otters and water voles; birds like kingfisher and dipper; and fish including salmon and trout, to thrive in the area. Volunteers worked alongside contractors and will monitor the river in the long term to keep an eye on these fantastic animals and an improved habitat.
Images depict before and after shots, showing eroded banks regraded and woody debris secured:
(B4RN) http://b4rn.org.uk is an innovative community enterprise set up to bring fibre optic to the home, providing superfast broadband to the northern parts of the AONB. SDF was able to help the company with initial start up costs (£5500) to publicise public meetings, fund legal costs and hold a successful share launch. The project aims to bring broadband to 200 homes by laying 150 miles of cable, mostly by volunteer tractor drivers, as part of a £1.8m project funded by local people buying shares in the business. Superfast broadband will enable more people to study, work, trade and promote their businesses on line in this beautiful but remote rural area – a very sustainable way of living!
The second phase of Gazegill Farm's project was to provide facilities on site at their farm classroom. Funds from SDF (£3000) helped to provide a range of wildlife identification materials (spotter books, bug hunting equipment and a bat detector) as well as dairy processing and milk testing equipment so students can carry out real life activities on the farm. The grant also enabled the farm to purchase a stock of wellington boots so all visiting students can get involved free of charge. www.gazegillorganics.co.uk/default.aspx?section=education
Received a grant of £4935 for 2011/12 as part of SDF's on going support for this excellent project. Funds supported an edition of the Birds of Bowland newsletter, farm interpretation boards, training for volunteer lapwing surveyors, and hire of a super machine called a Spoil Spreader which can create shallow scrapes and ditches. The Wader Project employs a project officer, Gavin Thomas, who encourages and supports farmers and landowners to manage their land sympathetically for breeding waders such as lapwing, curlew, snipe and redshank, which make Bowland such a special place.
This project also received SDF support this year, a grant of £2500 enabled the field teachers to continue rolling out our education programme to six primary schools around the edges of the AONB: children at Chatburn Church of England, Gisburn, Longridge C of E, St Wilfrid's RC in Longridge, St Peter's C of E in Leck, and St Wilfrid's C of E from Melling all got involved in classroom activities and farm visits looking at Bowland's important wildlife and habitats.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust (http://www.lancswt.org.uk/ ) also received two SDF grants totalling £6470 in 2011. The first was towards the cost of publishing the Flora of North Lancashire, a book which celebrates many years of collecting plant species recordings. Edited by Eric Greenwood, the book describes the vegetation and plant communities found in the area today, together with outlining changes in the landscape over 10,000 years. The Flora details the distribution of over 2000 species and is beautifully illustrated.
SDF also supported important habitat conservation work at Lancashire Wildlife Trust's nature reserve near Bashall, the only reserve in the AONB. This wet woodland is important for breeding birds and other wildlife, but deer and thick grass have prevented natural regeneration of the wood. With support from SDF some of the reserve has now been surrounded with deer-proof fence, whilst other areas have had small subsections enclosed. Reserve manager, Phil Dykes had intended to scarify parts of the woodland floor using heavy horses, but wet weather prevented this happening in the Spring, and a second attempt will be made later in 2012.
2012 is the 400th anniversary of the infamous Lancashire Witches trial http://lancashirewitches400.org and a number of organisations are working together to commemorate this. Green Close Studios received an SDF grant of £3000 to support their attempts to identify, develop and promote a new long distance walking route, following in the steps of the accused men and women from Pendle to Lancaster Castle, across the fells of Bowland. The grant also enabled artists working with Green Close to engage with local communities and school groups to develop a number of creative activities.
Roughlee parish council were also keen to commemorate 1612 by commissioning a statue of Alice Nutter, a resident of the parish, who was one of the accused witches. Early work to come up with designs for a sculpture and to consult with residents was supported with an SDF grant of £3000.
Another arts project in the AONB was supported by an SDF grant of £2818. The Dutch rural theatre company PeerGroup are working with Cultrapedia locally to develop and put on a performance which is linked with the Preston Guild. Working with young people from Newton in Bowland PeerGroup have found out more about local people and places, and a number of performances are planned for August 2012 in Gisburn Forest and Avenham Park in Preston.
The parish hall support a community archive and in 2011 they decided to research the history of the schools in Bleasdale, with support from a £2250 grant from SDF. The services of a professional archivist were secured and the pictures and information gathered were scanned and stored on a laptop. Workshops and events were held, culminating in an exhibition entitled 'Yesterday for Tomorrow' at the parish hall on April 1st attended by over 60 people.
Following on from the AONB's study into the potential for hydro power in the area, the owners of Clough Bottom farm near Bashall have worked with Ian Benson to further investigate the possibility of harnessing the power of Bashall Brook. A small grant of £1000 allowed more detailed measurements to be made and discussions to beheld with the Environment Agency. Unfortunately, at the present time this scheme will not be developed any further.
Finally, a grant of £550 was made to Lesley Woods to carry out a feasibility study into an arts and tourism project to bring a 'sheep parade' to Bowland. Inspired by similar temporary sculpture trials Lesley spoke with various agencies, artists and businesses to assess the potential for organising this initiative for the AONB. Lesley is now pursuing this project with support from Bowland Experience and hopes to apply for arts funding to now bring 'the March of the Hares' to the area in 2014.