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AONB Staff Newsletter July 2020

We only sent out our last newsletter last week, but we have so much to share, we're already ready to send out another one. It's a long one with a lot of national updates, so grab a cup of tea and enjoy!
Thank you to the 50+ people who have already completed the all staff survey to shape our new collaboration programme. It's really important that as many people as possible complete the survey so we can shape the project to meet the needs of all AONB staff. If you haven't worked on a collaboration programme before or don't have a lot of time to spare, we're especially interested in hearing from you. 

Please do share this newsletter with any colleagues who might not be receiving it from us, to subscribe, they just need to drop us an email. 

If you have content for the next issue of the newsletter (due first week of August), please get in touch via or

In this issue:

All staff survey for future collaboration project 
Responding to the Glover Review 
Defra's Environmental Land Management Scheme
Colchester Declaration
Wales update 
The Common Earth Alliance 
Art in the Landscape 
EUROPARC Federation
Covid and the post-Covid world 
Green Jobs 


All staff survey to shape future collaboration project - please complete! 
Today, the National Association for AONBs needs your input to better support your work.
To develop a new programme of collaborative activities for all AONB staff, we want to make sure we capture your needs and expectations and understand the constraints you are faced with when it comes to collaboration with colleagues in other AONBs. Starting this work now is a real opportunity for us to plan how to build back better after the Covid crisis and investigate new ways of working.
Collaboration can be as small as accessing a shared directory of documents, or as large as developing a project with colleagues from other AONBs, with all kinds of different levels in between, and definitely some we’ve never thought of.  We want to hear from as many AONB staff as possible then we can ensure the next steps for this project meet the needs of any and all AONB staff. If you don’t currently have the time to collaborate or it’s not something you’ve thought of doing before, we really want to hear from you. Ideally we’d like everyone to respond.
We have designed a short survey to collect this information. This survey is an absolutely essential element for us to get this programme right. The more answers we get, the better this collaborative programme will be tailored to your needs as AONB staff forming a network of strong potential, which we seek to enhance.
Please follow this link to the survey: and respond by Friday 17 July close of play. It is entirely anonymous.
If colleagues have joined your team since April 2019, they might not be in our database. Please make sure you pass this on so they don’t miss the chance!

Thank you, we’re counting on you!
Responding to the Glover Review
There is a lot of work going on to implement the recomendations of the Review of Deisgnated Landscapes, with the team from the NAAONB meeting with Defra on a one-to-one basis as well as in stakeholder engagement groups. Much of this work is focused around understanding how a National Landscape Service might work. The NAAONB has demonstrated to Defra how the AONB network, working on a collaborative basis, delivers so successfully whlle preserving local teams' independence and specialst knowledge of a wide range of different landscapes.

Alongside discussions with Defra, the NAAONB team is also working with National Parks England and Natural England to get a clearer understanding of how we will work together to deliver the recommendations of the review and how we each see a National Landscape Service working for us. 

Additionally, we continue to meet with the coalition of NGOs convened by the Campaign for National Parks and including partners such as the Wildlife Trusts, National Trust and RSPB to update on our progress on implementing the findings of the Review in its entirety. 

Defra’s Environmental Land Management Scheme
While AONB teams have begun the Tests and Trials work on the ground, the NAAONB are working to develop a compelling narrative around their work. The idea is to make the successes delivered by AONB teams into a clear story, demonstrating how we are able to deliver varied and complex projects across a wide variety of landscape types. Telling these stories in an accessible, measurable and powerful way will support our future bids to deliver this work on behalf of Defra.

12 AONBs are working together to run the only collaborative T&T out of a total of 44 projects managed by Defra, and it is the only one that is taking place across multiple areas of England.

Richard Clarke is managing the delivery of the Tests and Trials project and collating a quarterly report for Defra using infographics and strong visuals as well as detailed reports. Hints and tips on how to create top quality images to illustrate these stories will be coming out soon. 

Please spread the word to your local contacts - the consultation on the ELM policy document has now been reopened, and responses are invited before 31 July. A joint response on behalf of AONBs will be sent, but please ensure that your local contacts are made aware that they can respond too.

Colchester Declaration
Work to deliver the AONBs joint declaration for nature continues apace. We are developing a prospectus on our work on nature recovery networks, demonstrating how this work will see us deliver on the government's 25 Year Environment Plan, to feed into the next government spending round.

Natural England are supporting this by working at the regional level with AONBs to identify those species to target. Plans for five pilot sites are being developed with the local AONB and Natural England working closely.

Chris Woodley-Stewart of North Pennines AONB and Tim Youngs of Blackdown Hills AONB are delivering a series of well-attended national webinars to AONB colleagues to further support and develop this important work. 

The National Association has been invited to sit on the core group for Nature Recovery Network delivery partnerships, and is also working with the National Parks' national lead for regeneration to share learning and explore how we can work together to maximise the impact for nature.

The AONB comms leads made the Colchester Declaration the centrepiece of our social media work during World Environment Day and saw good engagement with tweet impressions up 400% for the national Twitter accounts. 

Wales update
The Welsh AONBs and NAAONB Wales Manager, Ian Rappel are meeting regularly. Ian is working with Natural Reseources Wales, the National Parks and the Welsh Government to progress towards parity between National Parks and AONBs. Work is progressing on the National Landscapes Partnership and Defra will likely be watching how this develops to further inform their thinking on the National Landscape Service. 
The Welsh AONBs are now planning the roll-out of Colchester Cymru, their action plan for nature recovery and to combat climate change. 

The Common Earth Alliance 
After seeing the National Association's paper on Network Leadership, Common Earth approached us to consider becoming signatories to the Common Earth Alliance. Common Earth are committed to working with organisations to look at how complex challenges for the natural world are being solved in small and large ways ways globally, and to share these and maximise their impact. Howard Davies now sits on their steering group, looking at regenerative issues at a national level throughout the Commonwealth.

Art in the Landscape
The Arts Council funded Art in the Landscape programme is being developed by Activate in partnership with a steering group of AONB representatives. They have developed a draft national arts strategy for AONBs and are preparing national training for AONB officers on how to develop arts programmes and work with artists. A presentation of the draft national arts strategy takes place on Thursday 23 July - lead officers, comms officers and other staff likely to be working with artists are all invited to attend. Please contact for more details. 
EUROPARC Federation
The NAAONB has now joined the EUROPARC Federation and is actively engaged in the development of the federation's strategy. This is in addition to the NAAONB's membership of EUROPARC Atlantic Isles.
Covid and the post-Covid world
During the Covid lockdown we've seen a massive increase in use of Basecamp. The NAAONB have sought to create a safe space for colleagues to chat and share feelings in these odd times. We're also looking to capture innovative ways of working which we can seek to develop in the future. Please do use the Covid 19 Forum to share any thoughts and ideas you may have. 

The National Association are represented on the Defra Rural round table, convened by the Defra rural recovery cell to make best use of the research being carried out by the University of Birmingham's Business School and Liverpool John Moore's University into sustainable development and sustainable agriculture post Covid.

The communications leads were meeting weekly for the first few months of lockdown to share updates on messaging and experiences of visitor numbers and behaviour as the restrictions began to be lifted. The comms leads are also now represented at the Defra stakeholder group. The meetings have dropped back to fortnightly as life begins to return to 'normal, but feedback on the meetings has been positive and it's been useful to have a direct way to share information from Defra as it becomes available, and an opportunity to touch base with each other while working remotely. A series of comms leads subgroups have now been formed, developing tools to support local businesses as lockdown eases and staycations become more popular, and developing digital film assets for new visitors, making them feel welcome but also giving guidance on how to behave in the countryside. 
Green Jobs
Many thanks to the Lead Officers for the work they did at short notice to support the development of a Green Jobs bid. We hope to share more informaiton on this soon. 
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