What’s on the horizon?
The Landscapes for Life conference 2019 takes place in Colchester next week. With speeches by Michael Gove, Dame Fiona Reynolds and Julian Glover, the conference should provide some interesting food for thought, and this year conference sold out within record time. If you’re going to conference, please remember to use the tag #L4L2019 so we can share your insights and images. If you aren’t at conference, you can follow the hashtag, and look out for edited highlights and interviews with speakers on the NAAONB YouTube channel after the conference – we’ll let you know when it’s available.
At the conference, Lead Officers will be discussing the Colchester Declaration for which we’ll be using the hashtag #declaration4nature. The declaration will be a commitment by the AONB network to increase the scale and pace of our delivery to redress declines in species and habitats within the context of a wider response to climate change.
Set against a backdrop of unprecedented concern for the future of the natural world; intergovernmental reports that the current global response to the effects of human impact on nature is insufficient; the UK Government’s ambitious targets for nature recovery and enhancement as outlined in the 25 Year Environment Plan; the Glover Review of AONBs and National Parks, and many AONB host authorities taking the step of declaring a Climate Emergency, this is a golden opportunity to set the agenda with a clear statement of intent.
The Glover Review is expected to report in the coming months. During their visits to AONBs, the Review panel has been broadly very positive about our work, but with the uncertainty created by Brexit, it’s very unclear what the Review will recommend and what weight it will carry. In the meantime, we’d like to stay on the agenda for the panel and for Defra more widely. One of the ways we can do this is to add the hashtag #YoGA or #YearofGreenAction to social media posts demonstrating the work we’re doing locally. The Year of Green Action is an initiative run by Defra, Natural England and other key partners.
Hopefully you already know about Landscapes for Life week – this is the new name for Outstanding Week – and this year it will run from Saturday 21 – Sunday 29 September, with a national ‘moment’ planned for 2pm on Saturday 21 September. The idea was developed by the AONB Communications Working Group of the Heritage Lottery Funded Future Landscapes project. The moment will give us an opportunity to demonstrate our geographic spread and collaboration across the UK and is a really simple idea – create a heart shape in the landscape, take a photo and share using the hashtag #♥L4L. The heart can be drawn in the sand, created out of pebbles, made using human bodies, anything you like. The theme for the week is the ‘Natural Health Service’ – tying in with the celebration of 70 years since the creation of the first AONB and National Parks (providing the mental and physical wellbeing partner to the NHS after the second world war). If you are planning an event during the week, please let us know.
The AONBs Advocacy working group of the Future Landscapes project has provided technical information and support to enable Neil Parrish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton to table an amendment to the Agriculture Bill. The Bill provides for a range of enabling powers to ensure “stability” for farmers as the UK exits from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. It also introduces new measures to change the way in which farmers and land managers are supported in the longer term: in the future payments will only be made on the basis of the provision of public goods which are aimed at protecting and enhancing the environmental impact of food production. The Agriculture Bill is focused on sustainability, with particular emphasis on soil health, biodiversity, flood protection, plant and animal welfare, cultural heritage and public access to the countryside. There is however no explicit provision in the Bill to enhance landscape quality, and therefore inadequate read-across to the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan objective around enhancing beauty and heritage. Neil Parrish MP has asked for a rewording in the Bill to remedy this, so it reads ‘managing land or water in a way that maintains, restores or enhances landscape quality, cultural heritage or natural heritage’. We’ll keep you updated.