For many years the traditional industries of farming and forestry that have shaped the Chilterns landscape have been in decline with increased competition from world markets. This has led to changes in land use and the appearance of our countryside. These changes are likely to continue whilst returns from farming and forestry remain marginal and pressure for land for leisure and development increases.
In order to assess these changes, the Chilterns Conservation Board initiated a land use survey across the AONB in the summer of 2005. This first pilot survey visited 49 randomly-selected one kilometre squares. This has been increased to 105 squares in subsequent years, representing 12.5% of land in the AONB.
All the land parcels in each one kilometre square that can be seen or legally accessed from a public highway are surveyed and the land use recorded using a list of codes. Categories of land use include: cropped and uncropped arable land; agricultural grassland; land used for equestrian and other leisure purposes; woodland and scrub, built-up areas; transport and open water.
A very high percentage of land use in each square was recorded due to the extensive rights of way network.
For information on the results please download the reports below:
Hedgerows are a highly valued feature in the Chilterns, knitting together the patchwork quilt of woodland, arable land and pasture. They are important for landscape, archaeological, cultural and agricultural reasons and are a major wildlife habitat. Hedgerows are very important in how much of the wider landscape can be seen, or how enclosed it feels, and how we experience and enjoy the countryside.
Despite the importance of hedgerows in the Chilterns, no comprehensive survey of their stock and condition has been carried out across the AONB. Hedgerow surveys are very useful - for building up a detailed knowledge base on the local character and condition of the hedgerow network and the mix of species they contain.
Using funding from Defra, a hedgerow survey was carried out on 280 hedgerows in 47 of the 105 one kilometre squares used in the Chilterns Land Use Survey between August and October 2006 and 2007. An additional 50 hedgerows were surveyed in the summer of 2008 as part of the Land Use Survey. The same hedgerows will be resurveyed from 2011 to see what changes have taken place.
For information on the results please download the report below: