New project on commons launched

Monday 3 October 2011

An exciting new project to protect and improve historic commons in the Chilterns was launched by the Chilterns Conservation Board on Friday 30th September at Totternhoe Knolls near Dunstable, with a confirmed grant of £403,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Chilterns has nearly 200 commons and they play a vital role in the area’s natural and cultural heritage. They’ve been at the heart of communities since the Middle Ages and hold generations of history in their landscape. They’re important wildlife refuges, home to many species that cannot survive elsewhere in our intensively-farmed countryside. They’re also fantastic green spaces used by many for walking, picnics and playing on.

However, commons are under threat. Today, there is increasing demand for land from agriculture, housing and commerce, but ironically, the biggest threat to commons is neglect.

The Chilterns Commons Project has £400,000 of HLF funding plus £100,000 from local organisations including The Chiltern Society. The Chilterns Conservation Board’s four-year project will help to improve the natural environment of the commons across the Chilterns area, spread the word about the value of commons and get more people involved in understanding and caring for them.

A new Commons Project Officer, Rachel Sanderson, is in place to advise and support local groups already caring for their common. She is also encouraging new volunteers to get involved. "We’ll be running training schemes for landowners and volunteers to help them acquire new skills such as using brushcutters or researching archaeological features on a common" says Rachel. "We’d love to get lots more people involved in caring for and promoting commons so if you are interested get in touch!"

Practical work to restore valuable wildlife habitats is also a major part of the Chilterns Commons Project, along with investigation and repair of their historic heritage.

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the South East, said:

"Locals and visitors alike of all ages will benefit widely from this scheme, which aims to increase access and understanding of the natural and cultural profile of the Chilterns AONB. We wish the Chilterns Conservation Board every luck with the project."

Visit the Commons Project pages on this site to find out how you can get involved.


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