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East Devon AONB
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Summer Update - Bringing the countryside to your inbox
Welcome to the East Devon AONB summer update.
Our overall message for this edition of our newsletter is to stay safe, be kind - and try to support local, independent businesses! However, we do  have a few other updates we'd like to share, so please read on...
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As we (the AONB team) continue to work from home, despite the ability to virtually meet over a video call, we have found it can leave a sense of disconnect and distance from what is going on 'on our patch'.

With opportunities to meet up with project partners, communities, volunteers (in fact everyone we might usually have daily/regular contact with) dramatically impacted, we have sought to find different ways to stay in touch and raise awareness.

One of the ways we hope to interact is by launching our facebook page - many of our contacts already share and connect on the social platform, so we hope to join them.   

If you are a facebook user, please take a minute to
visit our page and give it a like! Share it with your friends and maybe drop us a line - the more people we can tell about our outstanding area of natural beauty, the better.

As Sir David Attenborough has said  “no one will protect what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced”. 

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Farming with the environment in mind

Now that some of the lockdown restrictions have lifted, with social distancing we're glad to be able to progress with our farm surveys in the Umborne Valley.

The surveys will help inform our work (aimed at helping to shape future Defra policy) to 'test and trial' a system we've designed that would allow small farms to work cooperatively to access financial support under the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) Scheme. 

Small farms are often home to important natural heritage assets, such as species rich grassland, improved water quality and healthy soils, in part because they have avoided the levels of intensification found on larger farms.

Historically however, these same farms have missed out on financial support due to their small scale or incapacity to expand. By supporting these farms we hope to increase resilience and help them remain viable -  and in turn, conserve valuable environmental features.

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Saving Devon's Treescapes

With alarming predictions that 90% of our ash trees will be lost to ash dieback disease, Devon’s treescapes and the wildlife dependent on them, face an uncertain future.
 
Dealing with such a devastating forecast, we’re partnering with Saving Devon’s Treescapes, a new initiative led by Devon Wildlife Trust, that aims to build hope and generate positive action - enabling everyone to be a part of lessening the impact.
 
Ash makes up 22% of
broadleaved woodland in Devon; outside of woodland areas, in places such as hedgerows, parks and gardens, there are approximately 1.9 million mature ash trees.
 
Although we can’t prevent the disease, we can adapt our landscapes, making them more resilient, before all of the damage is done. By engaging with local communities, schools and volunteer groups, Saving Devon’s Treescapes will work to establish at least 250,000 new trees outside woodlands.

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Here's Rosie, with a video introduction. Many activities have been postponed due to COVID-19 but opportunities for you to get involved will be added to the DWT website  as soon as possible. In the meantime please contact Rosie at Rcotgreave@devonwildlifetrust.org if you have any questions.
By what name is the 'flower of the Axe' otherwise known?

Answer: The Heath Lobelia (Lobelia Urens), a rare flower that was first discovered in the UK, growing here in East Devon, in 1792.

Discovered by William Newbery, a herbalist from nearby Heathstock, it was once known to grow extensively over Kilmington Common/Shute Hill.   

Today, despite the efforts of a 'great plant hunt' as part of our previous Legacy to Landscape project, the only place they are known to grow locally (in a small grouping of 120 plants) is a private cottage meadow, near Axminster. 

Our aim is to introduce Heath Lobelia to further locations, accessible to everyone, and support the protection of the existing group by liaising with the meadow owners; ensuring the long term survival of this very rare plant.

A group of dedicated volunteers have already come together to champion the project. Seed was collected last year and has been successfully grown at their homes - after researching soil conditions and suitable locations, new plants have now been planted out. We'll now be monitoring and reporting on their progress - fingers crossed they thrive!

Annual Meeting & Acland Award cancelled 

Disappointing news for us, as we announce our decision to 'put plans to bed' and cancel our East Devon AONB Partnership Annual Meeting this year.

As the biggest event in our calendar, it's a difficult decision, but Covid-19 means we can't reasonably or responsibly invite a large number of people to gather in support of the East Devon AONB.

Traditionally, we use the Annual Meeting event to host our Acland Award ceremony - gaining as much exposure as possible for the outstanding community projects that have been nominated. Consequently, without the opportunity to publicly celebrate and present the trophy to a winner, the Acland Award has also been cancelled for 2020.

We will be looking at other ways to keep you updated with our work and will update you with further details as they become available. 

Thank you for your support - we hope to welcome everyone next year.

Use it or lose it

It's not a new message, but it is a vitally important one: Please support local where you can...  Whenever you can.

Small high streets always need our custom but now, more than ever. With such a reliance on tourism within East Devon, it's inevitable that businesses, families and workers will have been, and continue to be, highly impacted by the current crisis. 

Local farm shops, independent producers, community cafés, takeaways and restaurants will all have worked hard to make changes; adapting and finding ways to safely welcome customers back.

Please support them whenever you can, shop responsibly and be kind.

Shop local in East Devon

Good news for the Lower Otter Restoration Project

Proposals to restore the Otter Estuary to a more natural condition, closer to that which existed two hundred years ago, will be submitted to East Devon District councillors later this year following the approval of a major funding bid. 

The Lower Otter Restoration Project has been awarded around £8.5 million as part of Project PACCo – Promoting Adaptation to Changing Coasts

 


 

River Otter Beaver Trial Science & Evidence Report 

Over a 5-year period, the project trialed the reintroduction of Eurasian beavers, Castor fiber, into the wild in south east Devon.

It began with two family groups of beavers in 2015 which have now bred and dispersed throughout the catchment.

The detailed findings from the research are summarised within this report.


£10m to Kickstart England's Small Tourism Firms

The £10 million Kick-starting Tourism Package, will give small businesses in tourist destinations grants of £1,000 to £5,000 to help them adapt their businesses following the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses can use the funding to pay for specialist professional advice such as human resources, legal or financial expertise, to adopt new technology and online systems or to purchase new equipment. 100% of the money will come from government with no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.

Interested parties are advised to liaise with their Local Growth Hub to discuss accessing a grant through the programme. 

 


 

Countryside beauty & planning survey - call for participants 

If you are involved in AONBs either through living or working in an AONB; or making decisions about land lying in or adjacent to an AONB, this survey would welcome your views. 

Results will help to build up a more detailed picture of how people with an interest in AONBs respond to beauty in the countryside. The results gathered will be used to inform reports and approaches to public policy and beauty.

The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete -  a few minutes to reflect on what is beautiful in your local countryside.


 

New bumble bee identification app

A wildlife app launched today by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust gives users a new view of bumblebees through an augmented reality 3D function.

The free ‘What’s that Bumblebee’ app lets people engage with nature in a different and fun way.

Bring a three-dimensional bumblebee to virtual life in your own garden or living room, study it in detail and capture images to send to family and friends.

 


 

Business survey - call for participants 

If you are a sole trader or business owner, would you be interested in contributing to a Birmingham University/Liverpool Business School joint research project by sharing your experience of the Covid-19 pandemic?

The project is interested to learn about the impact of Covid-19 on you as a business owner, as well as the impact upon the business itself. The aim is to inform policy and practice going forward and your views would be valued.




 

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