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Artistic talent spearheads Covid recovery in the Cotswolds

Image of Kingfisher on branch ©Photo by Louie Fletcher

Image by Louie Fletcher.

Artistic and landscape collaboration announces new public art trail for 2021

The Cotswolds has long been famed for its glorious landscape, stunning architecture and breath-taking views. Now a panel of influential artists have joined forces with the team at the Cotswolds National Landscape, to shine an artistic light on the area.

Cotswolds National Landscape is a not for profit organisation, which works across the Cotswolds area to protect and promote the beautiful landscape. Working with the local creative community, the organisation has developed a unique response to aid recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, with the new Kingfisher Trail, Cotswolds 2021.

The Kingfisher Trail will encourage people to explore an accessible public art trail throughout the Cotswolds. Using two distinct routes inspired by the rivers Severn and Thames, the Kingfisher Trail will offer a unique way for people to connect with nature in 2021. The kingfisher has been chosen based on its reputation as a resilient and adaptable bird – characteristics shared with the communities and businesses the trail seeks to support. In a post-Covid context, the kingfisher is a symbol of hope and positivity for us all.

The trail officially launches in May 2021 and will feature 21 large scale kingfisher sculptures, all creatively interpreted by both established artists and emerging talent. In the run-up to the launch, artists will be showing their works in progress and a series of events are planned to showcase these new works of art before they are sited on the trail, to be visited and viewed at a series of locations across the local area.

All of the members of the trail’s artistic programming panel, comprised of PJ Crook, celebrated painter and sculptor; Andy ‘Dice’ Davies, the founder and director of the internationally acclaimed Cheltenham Paint Festival; Arabella Kizsely from the Little Buckland Gallery; abstract artist Ed Swarez; and illustrator Imogen Harvey-Lewis will each decorate a giant model kingfisher.

The artistic panel have brought together a further 16 artists who will generate an impressive kingfisher line-up, boasting originality and creativity when the trail launches next spring. In the meantime, sponsors and host venues are sought to work with the Kingfisher Trail team to deliver a unique Cotswolds experience for trail visitors.

Twenty of the sculptures are looking for venues where they can perch for the duration of the trail, from May to September 2021, and one special ‘flying kingfisher’ will swoop in and around the region, at a series of handpicked destinations, venues, and events.

To celebrate the conclusion of the trail, the individual kingfishers will be available to buy at auction in October 2021 – in a rare opportunity to snap up the work of all the contributing artists and in turn raise funds for the Cotswolds National Landscape projects.

Painter and sculptor PJ Crook MBE commented:

“I am delighted to have been invited to be on the panel advising the Kingfisher Trail, particularly as Cotswolds National Landscape team has embraced the idea of including a group of students from the National Star College, of which I am an active patron.

The students will make the idea of painting one of the beautiful huge kingfisher sculptures all the more exciting for me too, as I have volunteered to also take part! And I know that the other artists will all be thinking of brilliant ways to make their kingfisher models truly stunning and unique, to showcase the glorious waterways and landscape vistas of our beloved Cotswolds region.”

For more details and to get involved visit – www.kingfishertrail.org

ENDS

Editors Notes – for high resolution imagery and interviews please contact Mel Jones at Encore PR – melanie@encorepr.co.uk


New Year 2021 Lockdown

Following the government’s announcement of a national New Year 2021 lockdown, we highly recommend reading the full guidance on the latest lockdown rules to understand the restrictions. 

The Cotswolds National Landscape is within accessible driving distance for many surrounding towns and cities, but we’d like to remind people that at the moment, it’s very important for everyone who can to stay at home. The new lockdown rules state that we should all minimise the amount of time we spend outside our homes. If you are able to exercise locally to where you live in the Cotswolds, please remember our advice when you are outside:

  1. We must still all observe social distancing guidelines, even outdoors and in the countryside. If a walking path is narrow, wait for others to pass. Be patient.
  2. Respect those who live here.
    Many of our countryside residents and landowners are older and fit into the ‘vulnerable’ category of those at risk from coronavirus. Help protect their health by remembering good hygiene around gates and stiles, being considerate about where you park, and looking out for and adhering to any route diversions (which may be in place to protect those on farms, for example asking walkers not to go through the yard, or not to go past the house etc).
  3. Plan your time. Download self-guided walking routes, and make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the weather, and know when it gets dark.
  4. Remember the Countryside Code. Stick to it. If you don’t know it, learn it here.
  5. Tread carefully. Please be very careful not to disturb wildlife. This might include ground-nesting birds, or wildflowers.
  6. Please use your common sense. Keep dogs on leads and pick up their mess, don’t leave any litter.

Take your time, and breathe – these continue to be strange times, but we can once again take this opportunity to find reassurance in the healing qualities of nature, and to enjoy and appreciate our surroundings more.


Lockdown 2 – November 2020 update

As Covid-19 Lockdown 2 begins in England tomorrow (5/11/20), we would like to offer an update from the team at the Cotswolds National Landscape. The government has said that we should all stay at home. This is to protect the NHS from becoming overstretched through the winter, and to try and halt the exponential rise in Covid-19 cases. The new rules are here. Please take the time to read through them.

Thankfully, this time, we can still enjoy outdoor exercise (with members of our own households, or one person from another household), and we may travel to open spaces – but again, we should do our best to stay local.

With this in mind, we’d like to remind those who are looking to enjoy the countryside on their doorstep of the following:

  1. We must still all observe social distancing guidelines, even outdoors and in the countryside.
    If a walking path is narrow, wait for others to pass. Be patient.
  2. Respect those who live here.
    Many of our countryside residents and landowners are older and fit into the ‘vulnerable’ category of those at risk from coronavirus. Help protect their health by remembering good hygiene around gates and stiles (please use hand sanitiser and/or gloves), being considerate about where you park, and looking out for and adhering to any route diversions (which may be in place to protect those on farms, for example asking walkers not to go through the yard, or not to go past the house etc).
  3. Plan your visit – try to avoid the honeypot locations (towns and countryside); research where you’re going to park; and check if the locations and car parks you’re heading to are open. Download self-guided walking routes. Remember to plan your walks – take drinks and food, and make sure you have planned for the weather (especially with your clothing and footwear). Time your walk so you are back at home, or at your car, before it gets dark.
  4. Remember the Countryside Code. Stick to it. If you don’t know it, learn it here.
  5. Tread carefully – remember that during lockdown, nature has reclaimed space! Please be very careful not to disturb wildlife.
  6. Please use your common sense – keep dogs on leads and always pick up their mess, don’t release sky lanterns, don’t light campfires or bonfires, don’t drop any litter.
  7. Many local businesses will be closed – plan ahead, and bring food and drink with you…and please take your litter home! Some businesses may be offering take away food and drink – but again, please check in advance.
  8. Many toilet facilities may be closed – please check before visiting.

Rural Skills

Having considered the new lockdown guidelines, we have decided to cancel our planned Rural Skills between now and the end of December 2020. This is for the safety of our participants, trainers, and landowners. It is also to avoid non-essential travel. We are hoping to reschedule courses for early 2021. If you have a place booked on a course affected by this decision, we will be in touch with you.

Volunteers

We couldn’t do what we do without our amazing volunteers. This includes over 350 Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, and a team of dedicated volunteers helping us with the Glorious Cotswold Grasslands project. For the duration of Lockdown 2, we are suspending volunteering activities. If you volunteer with us, firstly, thank you very much; secondly, we will be in touch to keep you updated with any changes in the situation.

Reaching us

Since the beginning of the first lockdown, members of the team have been working from home. We will continue to do that. If you need to contact us, please use email in the first instance. Our email addresses are all on the Meet the Team page of our website.

Finally

We would like to encourage everyone to follow the Lockdown 2 guidelines, to take care of yourselves (and each other), and to stay warm and well through the winter.


A417 ‘MISSING LINK’ STATUTORY CONSULTATION

PRESS RELEASE REGARDING THE A417 ‘MISSING LINK’ STATUTORY CONSULTATION
13 October – 12 November 2020

From: Cotswolds Conservation Board, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, and the National
Trust

Highways England have today put forward their proposed revisions to the A417 Missing Link road scheme, addressing some of the concerns raised in feedback from the October 2019 public
consultation.

Collectively, the Cotswolds Conservation Board (operating as Cotswolds National Landscape),
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the National Trust are encouraged by recent discussions with
Highways England and believe that the proposed changes in this second statutory consultation have the potential to improve the scheme.

However, Highways England are aware we still have areas of concern, including the functionality and design of some of the crossings and overbridges. The three overbridges must deliver their intended outcomes – connecting habitats via wildlife corridors and counteracting the negative impacts of the new dual carriageway on protected wildlife sites. The crossings and overbridges should also be visually in tune with the special characteristics of the Cotswolds landscape.

We share concerns about the impact on Sites of Special Scientific Interest, in particular high priority habitats (such as lowland calcareous grassland). Careful design and mitigation can help to reduce biodiversity losses but we are encouraging Highways England go further and seek biodiversity net gain.

The organisations remain committed to constructive discussions with Highways England. We support the need to resolve safety and congestion issues but believe equal consideration should be given to reducing and mitigating environmental impacts as to engineering design. This would help to ensure the right level of protection for the natural beauty, diverse wildlife and unique heritage of the Cotswolds.

It is essential that the scheme brings benefits for people, the landscape and wildlife at a time when the importance of nature and outdoor green space has become clearer and more precious than ever. Highways England has a real opportunity to deliver on their landscape-led vision, meet the Government’s call to ‘build better, build greener’ and honour the Prime Minister’s renewed commitment to support the recovery of nature.

Each organisation will now closely examine the details published today and submit full individual responses in due course.

ENDS
Background Information:
Information about the A417 ‘Missing Link’ scheme can be found on Highways England’s website.

Cotswolds Conservation Board (operating as Cotswolds National Landscape):
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 is the third largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks 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.

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust:
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) works closely with local communities, landowners and partners to deliver much-needed conservation work across more than 1000 hectares of nature reserves, and within the wider landscape of Gloucestershire. This vital work safeguards these remaining special wild places and drives nature’s recovery, working towards a future where the countryside thrives once more with wildlife, wildflowers, trees, butterflies, insects and animals. The charity also delivers a vast range of events and projects across the county, as well as providing free public access to its nature reserves, enabling people from all backgrounds to spend time outdoors and get closer to nature.

National Trust:
The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 778 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The National Trust works in partnership with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to look after and protect Crickley Hill, its archaeology, limestone
grassland, ancient woodland and diverse wildlife.

For further press information and images please contact:
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust – tessa.hirst@gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk
National Trust – Sue.Wharmby@nationaltrust.org.uk


Glos’ green challenge hits halfway milestone

Volunteers plant 1,100 trees in just two months

A campaign to replace some of the thousands of Gloucestershire trees being decimated by ash dieback has reached its halfway point in just two months.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s ‘Ourboretum’ project called on volunteers to grow saplings at home, which will then be planted outside in the winter of 2021/22.

And green-fingered volunteers leapt to the challenge, planting 650 acorns, 200 beech mast and 270 hazelnuts since late July. They will grow into oaks, beeches and hazels respectively.

Those getting involved in Ourboretum include:

  • A family-run coach company getting staff involved as ‘a symbol of new beginnings’
  • A couple who collected 26 acorns as they celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary
  • A Forest of Dean gardening group growing 50 trees
  • A woman growing a tree in memory of her mum
  • A mother inspired by her daughter who gave away acorns as favours on her wedding day

BBC Radio Gloucestershire breakfast presenter Mark Cummings said: “What a phenomenal response! Ourboretum is showing just how important the great outdoors is to Gloucestershire folk.

“If our amazing volunteer army carries on like this we won’t just hit the 2,020 target – we’ll smash it.”

According to the Woodland Trust, 95% of British ash trees will vanish over the coming years because of ash dieback, an incurable disease. Gloucestershire is home to hundreds of thousands of ash trees – it is the third most common tree in the county – and experts fear the loss could have a disastrous effect on the landscape and wildlife.

Mark Connelly, Land Management Officer for the Cotswolds National Landscape said, “We’re delighted with the response so far to Ourboretum! It’s really captured people’s imaginations in Gloucestershire, and we’re really pleased so many people are already involved! We’re also pleased that the project caught the attention of Ground Control – who are now supplying us with around 2,000 pots, as well as compost and labels, to help people continue to join in with this brilliant project.”

How to get involved:

  • Volunteers collect seeds during autumn using the guidance online: www.bbc.co.uk/ourboretum
  • The website will then help them get all the info they need to begin growing the seeds at home
  • These home-grown saplings will then be planted across Gloucestershire next winter (2021/2022). BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Cotswolds AONB will identify locations where the fledgling trees can be planted and aim to log each one to create a permanent record of where they are growing

ENDS

Notes to editor:


The Cotswolds AONB gets a new look and a new name

 

The Cotswolds Conservation Board, which looks after the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) announces a new name and logo this week. The change is an active welcome to the findings in Julian Glover’s Landscapes Review published in 2019.

 

The review proposed that National Parks and AONBs should be brought together, as “one family of national landscapes”; it suggested that the cumbersome title ‘AONB’ should be replaced – with ‘National Landscape’; and it reminded us that our precious natural landscapes have always been, in part, meant to provide everybody the opportunity to connect with nature. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, it is clear that people cherish the great outdoors – and that it’s for all of us to enjoy and look after.

The new look for the Cotswolds embodies all these observations. Inspired by the special qualities of the Cotswolds landscape, the logo retains and amplifies the Cotswold Lion sheep synonymous with the region, now features the updated ‘Cotswolds National Landscape’ name, and presents a bold new colour. It gives a nod to the heritage of the Cotswolds, but showcases the area in a more energetic, invigorating, and inviting way.

Andy Parsons, its new Chief Executive said, “We firmly believe that this landscape is for everyone to enjoy and explore; and we hope that this exciting step will help people to better understand what we’re about – looking after the Cotswolds National Landscape, and helping people connect with nature in the Cotswolds.”

Brendan McCarthy, the organisation’s Chairman, said, “we warmly welcome the outcomes of the Glover Review and look forward to working closely with Defra and all our partners on the next steps. This change is the first of these, and an important part of our work to conserve and enhance this wonderful landscape, and to welcome visitors to enjoy it.”

Julian Glover, author of the Landscapes Review, said, “The Cotswolds stand out among our most famous and beautiful landscapes, as one of the places that make England special. They look unchanging but keeping their character and backing natural recovery will take effort and leadership. It’s a fight we must win – which is why I’m so pleased to see some of the ideas from our recent landscape review put to work in this precious place.”

Lord Gardiner, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity), said, “Our national landscapes are at the heart of our rural communities and rural economy, and I welcome this rebrand which I hope will encourage more people to enjoy our spectacular English landscapes.”

Jenny Forde, Cotswold District Councillor, said, “I’m delighted to see this new logo and name. This landscape is so good looking, it’s basically a supermodel! Great to see it in the spotlight!”

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Member of Parliament for the Cotswolds, said, “I warmly welcome this rebranding, as it will sharpen everyone’s appreciation for how special the Cotswolds really is – both in the quality of the landscape, and in its built environment.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Please contact Alana Hopkins at hopkins@cotswoldsaonb.org.uk for further information or interview opportunities.

  • The Landscapes Review Final Report can be found on gov.uk
  • The Cotswolds National Landscape was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape, and is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board. www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
  • The Cotswolds Conservation Board is 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 Conservation Board’s purposes are to:
    -conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Cotswolds AONB
    -increase understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the AONB
  • The Cotswolds is the third largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks 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. For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk. For details of the 13 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.uk