AONB Update Summer 2023

It is hard to believe that we are already starting to see the days shorten after this year’s fabulous Midsummers Day. Over the past four months we have had a new AONB Partnership, a result of the formation of a new unitary council for Somerset, had the great news that our Farming in Protected Landscape (FiPL) programme has been extended and will have an increased budget, and seen the formation of the Protected Landscapes Partnership – a national level partnership with the aim of driving collaboration across AONBs and National Parks. 

For the AONB Team we have moved from the winter / spring work programme, that concentrates on practical land management into the peak of the species monitoring and access programmes. It is also this time of year that events increase, with our hosted Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme running a hugely impressive programme engaging with a large and diverse audience. The spring also saw the launch of the Quantock Farmer Cluster Group. The group aims to support farmers / land owners through training, enhancing collaboration and support and advice. If you want more information contact Katie Read [email protected]   

Last month Somerset Council adopted the Somerset Tree Strategy. As one of the more wooded AONBs in the UK – at 29% of the AONB compared with 13.2% for the UK and 10% for Somerset – the AONB Team were heavily involved to continue to find ways we can increase our woodlands resilience and explore opportunities for new or larger woodlands that enhance our special landscapes. This, along with the newly emerging Local Nature Recovery Strategy, are being informed by our Nature Recovery Plan that is being developed and should be launched in autumn. 

With the development of these plans and strategies – and don’t forget the review of the AONB Management Plan starting this autumn – there is a huge amount of work for the Team and our partners to do to keep the Quantock Hills outstanding, but while the long days continue  I hope you get to enjoy this special landscape. 

Iain Porter