I am delighted to bring you details of our work and achievements from last year which, despite the harsh economic challenges facing the Board and the AONB, has been yet another year of which we can be very proud.
The strategic context for the Board's work is provided by the Cotswolds AONB Management Plan which in turn links to our three-year Business Plan. Once again, the past year has been an extremely busy one where the Board has made much progress in a number of areas.
The dry-stone walling grant scheme, launched with National Grid, has enabled over 7km of Cotswold walls to be rebuilt or reinstated across the AONB, helping to restore some of our landscape's special features.
Our work on climate change progressed further with the appointment of a new climate change adviser to work iwth farms and rural businesses on ways to adapt to and help mitigate the impacts of climate change in the Cotswolds.
We were delighted to be awarded the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas. This prestigious award illustrates the commitment that we, our partners and the wider tourism industry have towards managing and delivering sustainable tourism in the Cotswolds.
The promotion of the AONB was greatly enhanced with the launch of two new websites, one focused on our rural skills programme: www.cotswoldsruralskills.org.uk, and the other on how to escape to and enjoy the Cotswolds to the full: www.escapetothecotswolds.org.uk. In addition, a new guide to the family of named routes that criss-cross the Cotswolds was published, reflecting why the area should be the 'walking capital' of the country. We are also pleased to have become a national pilot for Natural England as they explore the future funding and management arrangements for National Trails.
One again, our voluntary wardens have done the Cotswolds very proud by dedicating over 46,000 hours to conservation and promotion work across the AONB - another record year.
The following pages illustrate many other highlights from the year and demonstrate how the Board is delivering real value for money through effective schemes and working in partnership at the local level for the benefit of the AONB and all those who live, work and visit this very special place.