Save the Pang Kennet and Lambourn Countryside Projects

by

To:

Graham Jones, West Berkshire Council

  • Local Councillor, Lambourn Valley Ward
  • Member of Executive – Leader of Council
  • Member of Downlands Area Forum

Dear Graham,

I was shocked to learn that the Pang Kennet and Lambourn Valleys Countryside Projects are under threat of ‘disinvestment’ and disconnection from its relationship with West Berkshire. Seeing the value for money they achieve, and from my own experience of the project as a professional and as a volunteer, I know that it is a highly valued community resource, and an excellent countryside project.

You can see from the attached summary document that the project attracts a huge amount of grants and inward investment for the district. The value for money document does not suffice. Indeed, it is striking how much the project does, and how much it is featured in local media, or when seen working as partners in projects, in work with the North Wessex Downs AONB, and so on, and the countryside project is outstanding in comparison to many others.

I can also judge from personal experience, because I volunteer with the Lambourn Valley Barn Owl group – which was established by and is supported by Pang Kennet and Lambourn Valleys Countryside Projects (PKLVCP). Volunteers such as myself and the rest of the members, operate to work with farmers and landowners in Barn Owl groups for each of the 3 valleys. Where we install, monitor and maintain habitat and nestboxes, the volunteers are guided and supported by PKLVCP.

This is but one example. The countryside project connects with many more volunteers, families, tourists, farmers, etc. Through such work with the community– to put it plainly – they multiply the level of outputs for the district local area; or – to put it more meaningfully – their engagement with local people brings significant social, cultural, health, biodiversity, and environmental benefits.

Health benefits come from bike rides, walks and even nature conservation work, as volunteers wielding hand tools burn more calories and use more muscle groups than the average person using a treadmill in an urban fitness club. The psychological benefits to health are important too, as is the social interaction of events such as a guided walk, family nestbox workshop or school pond project.

The countryside project makes people proud of West Berkshire and its natural heritage, because they are getting out and exploring and enjoying it. People have the opportunity to take part in the care of their countryside. As they do so the community learns more about the countryside, gain awareness of other sections of the community (farmers meet IT consultants, shopkeepers meet foresters…) and by connecting with the living landscape, one is more likely to contribute to protecting it in ways that West Berkshire Council would encourage – recycle, reduce energy use, not pollute, because the environment gains a more tangible significance.

Biodiversity and habitat management benefits from the presence of the PKLVCP – the project expertise and skills are fed into local farming operations and stewardship agreements, biodiversity action planning, and workshops such as for woodland owners. And when it comes to achieving biodiversity targets, it cannot be done by national government grants alone, such as the Entry Level Stewardship – once again the example of volunteers is highly important to the biodiversity of West Berkshire.

What are your views on this issue? Please would you let me know?

I would be very interested to know why West Berkshire is considering the end of this investment in the community. I find it hard to believe that they would get better value for money in working towards outcomes such as those I have mentioned, without the Pang Kennet and Lambourn Valleys Countryside Projects.

I would urge you to support the project, and to help secure its future.

Yours sincerely,

Jason Ball.

Jason Ball    BSc (Hons)  MCMI

Manager for Biodiversity and Alternative Energy

Sheepdrove Organic Farm – www.sheepdrove.com

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

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3 Responses to “Save the Pang Kennet and Lambourn Countryside Projects”

  1. Save the Pang Kennet & Lambourn « the natureheads blog Says:

    […] Link […]

  2. Countryside project needs support « Sheepdrove’s Weblog Says:

    […] Sheepdrove raised support back in Feb 2009 with a published letter to local Councillor, Graham Jones. people rallied to the cuase, and instead of completely cutting all cash from West Berkshire, the council voted to reduce its withdrawal of funds by half. […]

  3. Threat of cuts for countryside projects « the Natureheads blog Says:

    […] My workplace and I raised support back in Feb 2009 with a published letter to local Councillor, Graham Jones. people rallied to the cause, and instead of completely cutting all cash from West Berkshire, the council voted to reduce its withdrawal of funds by half. […]

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