Questionnaire: The public's perceptions of natural beauty in the Forest of Bowland

Black Hill Wood, Sabden
25th July 2018

Lorraine Richen-Stones is an MSc student at Lancaster and has been working on her dissertation with the AONB team. She would like your help with her project, and says:

I would like to invite people who visit, live or work in the Forest of Bowland to take part in a research study which is considering opportunities and constraints for woodland creation in the Forest of Bowland.  Starting with a questionnaire to understand the public's perceptions of natural beauty and if new woodland were planted what woodland scenes the public would visually prefer to see in the Forest of Bowland. It consists of 9 key questions some with pictures to view and choose, and will take about 5 - 9 minutes to complete see weblink:

As a student of Lancaster University studying an MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity my dissertation placement is with Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The focus is to understand ‘how in supporting biodiversity do differing perceptions of beauty, human and economic values, influence decisions when stakeholders prioritise projects?’ as the research question I am seeking to answer for Elliott Lorimer, AONB Principal Officer. We are therefore inviting people, and partners who have an interest in the Forest of Bowland (AONB) to get involved in the study. A research participant information leaflet has been produced to explain more about what the study entails to enable you to decide if you wish to take part by completing the questionnaire.

If you would like to know more about the research study or have any questions, please feel free to contact: Lorraine Ritchen-Stones 

Tel: 01200 448000 or Email:

Meadow Magic

18th June 2018

Hay meadows are one of our rarest habitats and a priority for conservation. Largely lost from the rest of the country, these meadows survive thanks to traditional farming practices, in particular the late cutting of the crop in July or August.

During spring and summer the array of colourful flowers and grasses in hay meadows not only make a wonderful sight but create important places for pollinators and other species, such as bats and birds, which feed and nest in them.

The Forest of Bowland has some of the best hay meadows in Lancashire and as such, the AONB is an important area for this stunning habitat.  However, Bowland's species rich meadows are only a very small resource and have, therefore, been a focus for conservation and restoration since 2012.

To celebrate this special habitat, Festival Bowland 2018 is highlighting a series of events which have hay meadows as their inspiration!

Make your way to Be a Garden Maker in Wigglesworth on Saturday 30th June when Chris Moss will be demonstrating wire sculpting techniques and participants can sculpt their very own flowers to take home.

Join Wyre Coast and Countryside Service on Sunday 1st July for a meadow wildlife walk in lovely Over Wyresdale.

Celebrate National Meadow Day at Bell Sykes Farm in Slaidburn on Saturday 7th July where you can enjoy fields of flowers, traditional crafts, scything demonstrations and more.

Bring out your creative side with artist, Annie Coxey, on Sunday 8th July in Abbeystead as you make colourful flowers, gorgeous garlands and beautiful butterflies from felt.

Finally, Saturday 14th July offers a great chance to see the flowers at Salthill Quarry Nature Reserve on a walk with former Lancashire Wildlife Trust Reserves Manager, Phil Dykes.

For more information, and booking details, see or email

Hen harriers breed in Bowland

7th June 2018

Rare hen harrier chicks have hatched in Bowland for the first time since 2015.

RSPB wardens discovered two hen harrier nests on the United Utilities Bowland Estate in early spring and have been monitoring them closely ever since. The nests were visited recently by the wardens under licence who were delighted to find four healthy chicks in each of them.

A single male hen harrier is responsible for both of the nests and he is currently taking food regularly to them.

Hen harriers are much-loved birds of prey that nest on hills and moors and are famed for the male’s spectacular aerobatic courtship ritual known as skydancing. However, they are on the verge of extinction as a breeding bird in England owing to ongoing illegal persecution associated with driven grouse shooting. Although experts estimate there is sufficient habitat in Northern England for at least 300 pairs, last year there were only three successful nests in the whole country.

Bowland used to be known as England’s last remaining stronghold for breeding hen harriers. But, until this year, hen harriers hadn’t bred successfully there since 2015 when a single chick fledged.

Nature conservationists now hope that the arrival of the chicks may mark a reversal in the fortunes for the hen harrier in Bowland. The RSPB is working in partnership with United Utilities and their tenants to give hen harriers the best chance to breed successfully.

James Bray, the RSPB’s Bowland Project Officer, said: “It is fantastic news that hen harriers are breeding once again on the United Utilities Bowland Estate after two barren years. It’s an incredibly nerve-wracking time for all involved in protecting these birds, especially for the team that have been constantly monitoring the birds since they arrived on the estate in April. The male hen harrier is doing a fantastic job of keeping the chicks in both nests well fed and we’re doing all that we can to ensure that they fledge safely.”

County Councillor Albert Atkinson, Chairman for the Forest of Bowland AONB Joint Advisory Committee, said: "It is very heartening to hear that hen harriers are once again back in the Forest of Bowland and nesting on United Utilities estate.  As a Partnership, we are working hard to ensure this iconic bird of Bowland has the best chance of re-establishing as a breeding species in the area."

Landscapes for Life Conference 2018

29th May 2018

Online registration now open.

Booking closing dates: Early Bird 21st June 2018 - Final Closing date 29th June 2018

With a theme of Shaping the Long View, we are expecting informed, enthused and energised delegate participation at Landscapes for Life Conference 2018 for our plenary sessions, site visits, briefings, and social events.

Both the UK and the Welsh Governments have recently indicated their commitment to Protected Landscapes. Recognising this commitment, the NAAONB proposes that demonstrating and measuring the benefits of landscape management will be of crucial importance in the years ahead, and we are committed to widening discussion and debate around this issue.

We will be looking at how the work of the AONB Family network achieves clean air, clean and plentiful water, and thriving plants and wildlife. We will also investigate how we can help to reduce the risk of harm to people, the environment and the economy by using our natural resources in a more sustainable and efficient way. Our ultimate aim is to ensure that the natural beauty of AONBs is valued and secured and we will explore how reconnecting people with nature can enhance the beauty and heritage our natural environment for future generations.

The NAAONB is running Landscapes for Life Conference 2018 in association with the Kent Downs AONB Partnership who will be hosting the site visits.

#L4L2018 will be an excellent opportunity to network with fellow landscape professionals from across the UK. Be sure to save the date – you can book a place online now.

For sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities please contact the Conference Manager, Jill Smith on

June is Blooming!

15th May 2018

Pop out for an evening Legstretcher from Scorton picnic site on 1st June or opt for an orchid walk around Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Cross Hill Quarry Nature Reserve in Clitheroe on Sunday 3rd.

Head back to Scorton on Thursday 7th when Wyre Countryside Service attempt to go where you never dreamed possible - on a Tramper Trek over Nicky Nook Fell.  (Fingers crossed for good weather.) Walkers welcome too!

For bird lovers, the RSPB will be leading a moorland walk on Saturday 16th and keeping an eye out for upland species including ring ouzel, merlin and England's rarest bird of prey – the hen harrier. On the same day, history buffs can explore Stephen Park and surrounds and hear all about Sir Stephen Hammerton and the Pilgrimage of Grace.

Clearbeck House in Tatham will be opening its 4 acre garden for charity once again this year. If you missed the May dates you can catch it on 24th June (and then again on the 1st July).

Also in Tatham, Maiden Bridge Art Centre's summer exhibition will be in full swing on weekends throughout June and July.

For more information about all Festival Bowland events, including booking details where needed, see

Don't Miss Bowland's Spring Wildlife Events!

4th April 2018

Whilst the weather might not have made up its mind completely yet, there's a definite feeling of spring in the air, so what better time to go on the lookout for Bowland's wildlife highlights?

Why not join the RSPB for the first moorland walk of the season on Saturday14th April from Slaidburn and see how many upland birds you can spot? If you can't make that date there will be another chance on the 28th.

Wyre Coast and Countryside Service will be heading off on a Tramper Trek from Claughton looking for lapwings and hares on the morning of the 21st and walkers too are very welcome.  If you have a pair of binoculars make sure you pack them.

Also on the 21st, this time in the afternoon, is a ramble by the River Hodder in Newton – a great spot to look for wildflowers, birds and insects.

Back over to Wyre for an evening whimbrel watch on Wednesday 25th to catch a sight of these beautiful birds as they come in to roost and then a Sunday morning walk to search for snipes and hares around Bleasdale on the 29th.

Saturday 5th May has a choice of two events: a springtime wander around Garstang and Barnacre in the morning, or a journey into the Langden valley looking for the beautiful Green Hairstreak butterfly and amazing Emperor moth in the afternoon.

We'll be celebrating International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday 6th May with an early start in Whitendale followed by a well-earned hot breakfast at the café in Dunsop Bridge.  If 5.30am is a little too early then a springtime walk around Nicky Nook near Scorton from 10am might just do the trick. Enthusiasts might even be able to make the first of this year's bluebell tea walks over in Calder Vale that afternoon as well!

Full event information and booking details are available on the Forest of Bowland AONB website at

Dog Walking Advice for Spring

15th March 2018

We want everyone to enjoy the beautiful countryside at this time of year with new spring life emerging, and as Bowland is a sheep farming area, there is a strong chance you will encounter some while out with your dog.

It is every dog’s instinct to chase, even if they are usually obedient and good with other animals.  Chasing by dogs can do serious damage to sheep, even if the dog doesn’t catch them. The stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and pregnant ewes to miscarry their lambs.

  • Keep your dog on a lead at all times, especially when near farm animals
  • When walking your dog in the countryside, near or on farm land keep a lookout for signs and notices informing you of the rules to be observed regarding livestock

For further advice about walking your dog at this time of year visit the National Sheep Association website.

Also keep a close eye out for our feathered friends - Bowland is an important breeding area for ground nesting birds such as lapwing, curlew, oyster catcher and redshank.   The breeding season, between 1st March and 31st July is a particularly vulnerable time for ground nesting birds. Disturbed birds may be prevented from settling, or if already nesting they will fly away from their nests, neglecting their eggs or chicks. So it's just as important to follow the same dog walking advice as above and keep your dogs on a lead.

Further advice from RSPB can be found here.

Bowland Wader Project Newsletter

22nd February 2018

The Bowland Wader Project is just one of a number of nationwide Focus Areas delivering face-to-face targeted advice and support to farmers and landowners who want to help wildlife thrive on their land.  Bowland is nationally important for breeding wading birds and local farmers are at the forefront of efforts to conserve the area's lapwings, curlews, redshanks, snipe and oystercatchers.  Find out about this important work in the RSPB's winter newsletter. (Click the image to download the pdf)

For further information contact

Statement on Persecution of Birds of Prey

7th November 2017

The Forest of Bowland AONB is an important area for the birds of prey that we associate with the English uplands, such as hen harrier, peregrine, merlin and short-eared owls.  However, the RSPB Birdcrime Report 2016 published last week highlights how some of these iconic species continue to be the subject of illegal acts of persecution throughout much of England and particularly the northern uplands. 

The Chair of the Forest of Bowland AONB Joint Advisory Committee, County Councillor Albert Atkinson stated:

"It is particularly concerning to the Committee that these acts of illegal persecution continue; badly affecting the populations of birds of prey that are synonymous with the Forest of Bowland. These acts undoubtedly have an impact on the reputation of Bowland as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'.   The Committee unreservedly condemns all illegal persecution of birds of prey.  The AONB will continue to work closely with landowners, the police, RSPB and Natural England to help protect and conserve birds of prey across the area."

If you wish to report any crimes against wild birds, we would suggest contacting the police by calling 101.