North Pennines AONB Partnership win award for conserving upland hay meadows

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership has been working to restore the biodiversity of hay meadows in the region.

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Recognition for the conservation work of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership has come in the form of a County Durham Environment Award.

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The Partnership, an alliance of 25 different bodies with an interest in the area, won the Natural Environment and Countryside Improvement section of the County Durham Environment Awards 2011 for their Hay Time project.

The Hay Time project was launched in 2006 to aid conservation efforts of the upland hay meadows of the North Pennines, celebrating this unique part of the British countryside by encouraging volunteering and introducing the meadows to schoolchildren.

Volunteers and Partnership staff have been monitoring the impact of meadow restoral work. They have found that harvesting seed from flower-rich meadows and spreading it on nearby fields is effective in restoring the biodiversity of meadows.

Almost 600 children have also had the opportunity to get involved, from visiting hay meadows to trying out hay rope making.

The North Pennines AONB lies between the National Parks of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and Northumberland. It was designated as an AONB in 1988 and encompasses almost 2,000 square kilometers of unspoilt landscape.

Rebecca Barrett, Project Development Officer for the AONB Partnership and Hay Time Project Manager said, “We are passionate about the work we are doing to both conserve and raise the profile of these treasures in our landscape, and we’re delighted to receive this award”.

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For more information on the North Pennines area, visit www.northpennines.org.uk.