Group Launch

Avon Valley Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Group

The Countryside Stewardship (CS) Facilitation Fund  has been set up to support individuals and groups that unite farmers, foresters and other land managers in order to improve the local natural environment at a landscape scale.

The Avon Valley group was one of 19 successful bids into this competitive fund announced in July 2015. Details of all the successful bids can be found here:Facilitation fund round 1 

The Avon Valley group has  the largest membership  of those confirmed involving over 80 holdings and nearly 6000 hectares of land.  Members will be supported by training and advice from a Facilitation Team over the next five years focusing on developing co-operation amongst land managers.

It is hoped this will achieve a higher standard and scale of conservation management than would be possible on individual holdings, benefiting  landscape, habitat, species and water quality throughout the mid Avon Valley area and beyond.

The South Devon Facilitation Team is led by the South Devon AONB Unit as Co-ordinator. drawing on the specialist and technical expertise of members of the South Devon Conservation Advisers' Forum.

The Conservation Advisers'  Forum comprises:

Paul Allen (Woodland Trust)
Anna David (Greater Horseshoe Bat Project
Craig Dunton (Avon Valley Project)
Lynne Kenderdine (Devon Wildlife Trust and the Avon Valley Project)
Ed Parr-Ferris (Devon Wildlife Trust, Avon Valley Project and Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project)
Sabine Peukert (FWAG SW)
Westcountry Rivers Trust
Andrew Whitehouse (Buglife)
Cressida Whitton (Devon Historic Environment Service Independent agents and advisors

We can also draw on the skills and expertise of:

Natural England South Devon land team staff (Jon Grimes, Simon Tame, Eamon Crowe), Lizbe Pilbeam the Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer, Environment Agency and
Forestry Commission field officers Roger Ford and Richard Paton

The membership group represents:

All scales of enterprises from large commercial to smallholders
Dairy, mixed, arable, beef and sheep enterprises, woodland
Owned and tenanted land
A DWT reserve, Woodland Trust and other charitable trust land holdings

Benefits to  farmers, foresters and other land managers:

Countryside Stewardship applications from member landowners within a Facilitation Fund area will score 20% more points, increasing the likelihood of success.
Free group advice and support with on-farm environmental management.
A variety of land management based workshops, events and assistance.
Support for all members whether currently in a scheme or not.
Sign posting to other support and funding opportunities.

Activities so far:

We held a launch event at Holsome Park Farm near Diptford attended by 70 people.

We have organised a number of mini workshops to inform  farmers and land managers about the new Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship scheme and assist development of  appropriate applications.

15 Mid Tier applications have been endorsed by the team following these workshops.

Further information: [email protected]  / 01803 861384

The scheme is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas. This project has received European Union funding under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme’s Facilitation Fund.