A major conservation scheme to ensure that the Cotswolds retains its enchanting beauty is nearly complete.

Lasting five years and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the £2.8 million 'Caring for the Cotswolds' project has been tackling the key elements that make the area unique and help it attract millions of visitors every year.

It is one of the first pioneering 'landscape-scale' projects funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and has helped to ensure that the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is conserved and enhanced for future generations.

In delivering the project the Cotswolds Conservation Board paid special attention to:

The drystone walls that are a distinctive feature of the AONB.

The limestone grasslands that were nearly destroyed by intensive farming decades ago but are being restored by conservationists and farmers to provide a rich habitat for a diverse range of wild flowers and grasses and up to 25 species of butterfly.

Conserving the local distinctiveness of the field patterns, hedgerows, trees, towns, villages and buildings that set the Cotswolds aside from any other area of the country.

A major interpretation project aimed at helping the public understand and appreciate the Cotswolds AONB.

Niel Curwen, Chairman of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, commented:

"When you walk or drive through the Cotswolds landscape and take time to reflect upon the characteristics that make the area unique, it is worth remembering that, although they appear to have been there for ever, the features that catch your eye may well have been carefully cared for and tended recently.

"Very often, we see a view that pleases and find ourselves appreciating it for its timeless beauty but the satisfying balance and composition of some of the most stunning vistas in the area has very often been given a helping hand in the recent past by farmers, land managers and conservationists."

The project has covered a wide spectrum of conservation work, from using conservation grazing to ensure that wildflower grassland sites in target areas flourish, to providing rural skills courses to encourage more people to learn to help repair drystone walls.

Certain areas of the project have also been upheld as nationally acclaimed examples of good practice.

Click here to see a booklet about the project.