Restoration of hay-meadows and moorlands, improvements to dry stone walls and creation of woodlands by hundreds of volunteers and community groups have helped the South Pennine Watershed Landscape Project win the prestigious UK Landscape Award.
The South Pennines-based project, managed by Pennine Prospects and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and South Pennine LEADER, has for the past three years, been providing opportunities for people to get involved in local heritage projects, delivering moorland conservation initiatives, developing resources to help people explore the landscape, hosting exciting events and activities, including an innovative arts programme.
The Project’s core aims are to protect and enhance the unique natural and historic features of the South Pennine uplands and to encourage greater understanding and enjoyment of the area so that it is valued and protected.
It was chosen from a range of entrants from across the UK and will now go forward to the European Landscape Awards in 2013.
Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon said landscapes were important for the health and well-being of society, our cultural identity and for the diverse habitats that exist.
“I am delighted that the South Pennine Watershed Landscape Project has won this award. It is a project with wide-ranging impact, a powerful expression of local identity and sense of place and is testament of the hard-work of the people who have played their part in the formation of this distinct landscape.
“It is within an hour of where seven million people live and is an internationally important area for birds, a vital store of carbon, a place to visit for walkers and cyclists that enhances rural tourism and an inspiration to artists and writers.”
Judges were impressed with how the Project had sought to raise awareness on a number of different levels - from improving physical access to the landscape to getting people to think differently about their landscape.
Achievements to date include:
- The active participation of 30 community groups actively involved in the project and 1,300 volunteers donating 7,000 hours of their time.
- More than 1,700 school children from 36 schools taking part in landscape-based activities from poetry writing to building their own mini peat bog.
- Woodland creation, dry-stone walling improvement and restoration of hay meadows and moorland. Over 1,600 fields are now able to support rare species, such as the twite, known locally as the Pennine Finch.
- Improvements to rights of way conditions and access, creating new tourism opportunities. The South Pennine Walk and Ride Festival, part-funded by the Project, attracted more than 5,000 participants over 100 events this year.
The UK Landscape Award celebrates the power of the local landscape and the benefits that it contains. The UK winner will be submitted to the Council of Europe’s European Landscape Award for 2013.
The Award was jointly organised by DEFRA, Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales, the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland and was open to landscape projects of all sizes and types Further information can be found at www.uklandscapeaward.org
The Award takes place every two years. The UK winner in 2010 - the Durham Heritage Coast - was a runner-up in the European Landscape Award 2011
The Awards were judged by a panel of independent experts who were chosen for their broad perspective of landscape issues. The judges were Sue Evans MBE (Central Scotland Forest Trust and Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute), Dr Pyrs Gruffudd (Dept of Geography, Swansea University), Dr Val Kirby (Consultant, Fellow of the Landscape Institute and their representative on the IUCN/ICOMOS landscape working group), Merrill Smith (Dundee City Council, Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute) and Paul Tiplady (Consultant and Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute).
The Watershed Landscape Partnership was one of ten projects in the environment category for the whole of the UK to reach the semi-finals of the National Lottery Awards 2012.
Pennine Prospects was set up in 2005 as a champion for the South Pennines. It is a unique rural regeneration company that aims to promote, protect and enhance the built, natural and cultural heritage of the South Pennines.
Heritage Lottery Fund’s Landscape Partnership Schemes help to bring together members of the community as well as local, regional and national organisations to deliver schemes which benefit some of the UK’s most outstanding landscapes and rural communities.