Farmland covers 65% of the Wye Valley AONB and the Farming Awards celebrate the wonderful work that farmers and land managers do in keeping the Wye Valley such a special place to live, work and visit – for example through saving rare breeds, caring for wildlife habitats, restoring old buildings, maintaining drystone walls and traditional hedgerows and supporting local community life. The Farming Award judges were impressed with the dedicated community environmental work on Coppett Hill, which is helping to maintain one of the most photographed panoramas in Britain.
Coppett Hill forms part of the iconic view from Symonds Yat Rock, seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors to the AONB every year. It is unusual in that it is owned by a company limited by shares and is run and managed by local volunteers. Coppett Hill was designated a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in 2000 and the Trust works to safeguard and improve the habitat for wildlife whilst allowing access to the Common by the public – a delicate balancing act.
Ray and Frances Thomas, founding members of the Coppett Hill Common Trust (CHCT), received the Farming Awards’ Trophy, along with a cheque for £400, on behalf of all the shareholders of CHCT at Monmouth Show.
“We are very pleased to have won the award,” said Ray and Frances Thomas, joint Presidents of CHCT. “It is a testament to all the hard work put in by the management team and the volunteers over recent years and lovely to have recognition of the part we play in managing the AONB”.
Runner-Up in the Farming Awards, receiving a cheque for £200, was Alan Morgan and his son William, who farm 160 acres at Gadr Farm, on the western edge of the AONB, near Cwmcarvan in Monmouthshire. A mix of sheep, arable and firewood enterprises, Gadr Farm is a lovely example of farming with conservation in mind.
The Farming Awards judges also Highly Commended Cherry Orchard Farm, Penallt, run by Helen and Ashton Beale, and Square Farm, Mitchel Troy, run by Rob and Ryan Whittall. Cherry Orchard Farm run a box scheme for their Galloway beef and have embarked on a programme of environmental and access improvements. Square Farm is run organically, stocking its own farm shop with meat and vegetables from the farm, and have undertaken environmental work including hedgerow and orchard management.
A partnership between the AONB Unit, Ross-on-Wye Town Council and Natural England have started tree management work on the banks of the Wye where it passes through Ross, to benefit biodiversity and create river views.
If you are 14-18 years old and love exploring the countryside of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean, then the Wye Valley AONB Youth Ranger programme is looking for you! Come along to our Taster Day on September 30th.