Just a few quotes from the recently-held Tamar Valley AONB Annual Forum, where around 50 delegates met at Buckland Abbey to hear more about the plans for Nature Recovery in the Tamar Valley between now and 2030.

The Forum included presentations from Natural England, National Trust, Devon Local Nature Partnership and Cornwall Council, as well as the Tamar Valley AONB and Tamara Landscape Partnership team.

The importance of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (the backbone for ecological networks) and County Wildlife Sites for nature recovery in the Tamar Valley was discussed, as well as nature recovery in the working landscape; restoring nature-friendly habitats; investing in nature; and Local Nature Recovery Strategies.

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Nature recovery in practice was highlighted by Tamar Valley AONB Project Officer, Jane Hart, and one of the volunteers with the Discovering Dormice on the Bere Peninsula project. The audience had the chance to see up close a ‘footprint tunnel’ as installed at four sites to monitor for evidence of the hazel dormice, which leave very different footprints to other rodents, and learned how to look for hazelnuts that have been nibbled in a distinctive way as further evidence of their presence. Find out more about the project here.

Becky Butland, Farming in Protected Landscapes Officer for the Tamar Valley AONB, provided examples of how the grant funding has already given nature a helping hand throughout the Valley, and encouraged farmers and land managers to apply for funding that is available right now. Members of the Tamara Landscape Partnership team highlighted progress with their National Lottery Heritage Fund supported project, including the work they are doing with local farmers and communities.

Buckland Abbey Ranger, Ed Fursdon, presented work and led a guided tour around the Estate, to showcase the restoration of nature-friendly habitats as part of the National Trust’s efforts and priorities for nature recovery.

With the UK in the bottom 12% of countries for biodiversity intactness, it’s more important than ever that Lawton’s principles of ‘more, bigger, better and joined’ are applied to the nature recovery work in the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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Valley Champions

The Tamar Valley AONB Annual Forum concluded with this year’s Valley Champion Awards, that seek to recognise and celebrate individuals who go ‘above and beyond’ in their contribution towards the conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the Tamar Valley.

This year, Jo Tytherleigh and Ken Finn from Harewood Farm, Calstock, were recognised for the sensitive management of their 25-acre traditional hay meadow and woodland, which has resulted in habitats that are incredibly rich in biodiversity; their newly-planted 230m hedge is home to 35 different plant species, perfect for small mammals, pollinators and other creatures. Their meadows are managed through cutting hay in late summer and grazing in autumn/spring, allowing the many diverse flowers and invertebrates to complete their life cycles. Jo and Ken share their knowledge and passion for the land and the soil with others through Field to Fork workshops, connecting growing and cooking with local, home-produced food.

Ray and Jean Croft also received a Valley Champion Award for their volunteering work with the AONB team over the past 20 years. Serving refreshments at events; stewarding and marshalling; driving the community bus; delivering newsletters; and weekly write-ups for the Wednesday morning walking group are just some of the ways in which Ray and Jean have supported the team over the last two decades.

Both awards presented were made by Jo Downs Handmade Glass, Launceston and engraved by Pens and Moor, Tavistock.

Special commendations went to Dave Olver for his tireless involvement with the Thursday morning walking group over many years (devising the programmes, leading the walks, creating new routes, hosting the annual BBQ) and Peter Thompson for his voluntary work with Tamar Community Trust, in particular helping with the design of the Calstock Wetlands’ footbridge and setting up the ever-popular Calstock Wetlands Bird Watchers Group Facebook page. Dave and Peter were each presented with a copy of the Tamara Coast to Coast Way book.

You can find out more about the Tamar Valley AONB’s Nature Recovery Plan 2023-2030 here, and keep up to date with news and events from the Tamar Valley AONB by signing up to the regular ebulletin – charlotte.dancer@cornwall.gov.uk