New appointments to Cotswolds Conservation Board

Two new appointments to the Cotswolds Conservation Board have been confirmed by Richard Benyon, Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries.
The Secretary of State appoints members to work alongside Local Authority and Parish appointees on the Conservation Board, which has strategic responsibility for conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with increasing the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the AONB.

Dr Val Kirby lives in Stroud and is a landscape architect and town planner with extensive experience in landscape policy and strategy. She has worked as an academic in England and New Zealand and has a research degree in cultural geography, based on the exploration of cultural and natural heritage. Her voluntary work includes chairing a working group on health and well-being for the Landscape Institute and advising the Cotswold Canals Trust on strategic landscape and planning issues. For several years she was Head of Landscape and Geodiversity at Natural England. She has also worked for the Countryside Agency and for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

As well as her professional interests, Val is a keen endurance runner and sings in several local choirs.

Val said: “I have known and loved the Cotswolds since I was a teenager. It is an honour and a challenge to be part of the team that is committed to looking after its stunning landscapes into the future.

Ed Macalister-Smith and his wife Rosemary live within the AONB in Long Compton, Warwickshire. He has recently retired after a career in senior roles in the NHS and in the third sector. His most recent role was as Chief Executive across the NHS covering all of Wiltshire, and Bath & North East Somerset. He continues his interest in the NHS as a leadership coach working with emerging clinical leaders, and has recently become a public elected Governor for the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust. He is also a trained community first responder for his village with West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Ed is a keen gardener, and is planting an orchard at his home. His original training was in land use with a BSc from Wye College, London University, and an MSc in Forestry from Oxford University.

Ed said: “I am delighted to be appointed by the Secretary of State to the AONB Conservation Board, and look forward to both making a contribution to the work of the Board, and to learning more about the great work of the Board and the staff and volunteers who work with it.

The new appointees will help steer and champion the Board as an effective mechanism for the management of the AONB and enhancing the social and economic well-being of local communities.

Val and Ed join the Board as it is about to publish the new 2013-18 Cotswolds AONB Management Plan which sets out the vision, objectives and policies for future management of the AONB.

Four existing members of the Cotswolds Conservation Board have also been re-appointed for terms ranging from one year to three years: Rev Jeffrey West (chairman); Simon Randall, Jo Burgon and Christine Shine.

For information about the Cotswolds Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the work of the Conservation Board visit:

Notes to editors:

  • The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape.
  • The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members - 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas. There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland. For further details, visit: