We need new Youth Rangers

- Posted Thursday 1 October 2015 by Sharon Seymour

Please get in touch if you are aged 14-16 and would like to try the taster sessions during half term.  Don't be shy just come and try!

This scheme was launched in 2011 and is funded by the Lottery.



Please see Youth Rangers  for further information.



- Sharon Seymour

LEMURs add sharks and hummingbirds to the Wye Valley Bio Diversity

- Posted Friday 4 September 2015 by Nikki

The Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) has been providing work experience to two LEMUR+ trainees to enable them to gain practical skills in conservation and environmental work.

Stephen Shutt and Sophie Marley are the latest trainees on the Learning Environments in Marine, Urban and Rural Areas (LEMUR+) Project, led by Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and funded by the Heritage Lottery. It provides career opportunities with organisations like the Wye Valley AONB, by offering professional on the job practical experience in technical skills such as wildlife habitat surveying, heritage interpretation, species identification and project management.  These skills are all being developed alongside the use of new emerging digital field technologies that can be employed during field work
Phil Burton, LEMUR project manager was very emphatic about the need for this project. ‘Under current predictions, it is expected that there will be a seriously depleted number of skilled naturalists who are capable of using digital field technologies necessary to efficiently provide the level and quality data required to inform biodiversity planning. ‘ he stated ‘This may have serious implications for our ability to monitor species dynamics as a result of climate change.’
The Wye Valley  AONB Unit has worked with a number of trainees since 2011, all of whom join 90 other LEMUR trainees that have gone on to work within the environmental and conservation sectors. The two latest trainees came along very different paths to their LEMUR+ placements at the Wye Valley AONB offices at Hadnock Road, Monmouth.
Stephen Shutt,  pictured left, LEMUR+ trainee and is currently on a 3 month placement. He came from a background of the Royal Marines, pub management, security work and manufacturing. His passion for the environment has carried on throughout his working career and he has carried out environment auditing and voluntary work with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the Mammals Society, the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)  and Gwent Wildlife Trust. After redundancy he obtained funding from the Welsh Government ReACT which helps people affected by redundancy gain new skills and encourages recruiting employers to employ a redundant worker.  This funding helped Stephen attend courses on such diverse topics as badger development and riparian mammals. He discovered LEMUR+ and after a 4 day intensive employability event, he was accepted on the LEMUR+ training placement. Stephen is currently studying for his BSc in Environmental Science with the Open University.

Sophie Marley, pictured right, came to the project via a more traditional route. After working with in Yorkshire in community engagement and horticulture she studied at the University of Reading, Berkshire in Applied Ecology and Conservation. She then had a voluntary period at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens working with the 7 million dried and pressed specimens at the Herbarium Sophie also worked as a conservation trainee for Buckingham and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust and a library assistant at the University of Reading. She sourced the LEMUR+ placement and was given a 9 month placement at the Wye Valley AONB. Sophie has found the placement gives her new skills for the employment market ‘ This project has helped me to increase my biological surveying skills and accelerated my botanical knowledge which I am sure will help me gain employment in this specialised area.’ she said.

Both Sophie and Stephen have had the opportunity to work on surveying the landscape of the Woolhope Dome, area south east of Hereford.  They concentrated on basic habitat surveys which included grasslands and hedgerows. Points of interest such as ponds, veteran trees and wildlife were also recorded. Finding a Chamomile Shark Moth caterpillar feeding on mayweed and Hummingbird Hawkmoth caterpillar in a field with large amounts of Lady’s Bedstraw were some of the highlights. Their important survey work was sent onto the National Biodiversity Network who capture wildlife data in a standard electronic form and it has contributed to the bio diversity knowledge of the Wye Valley.


Editor’s Notes:
The Wye Valley AONB is an internationally important protected landscape containing some of the most beautiful lowland scenery in Britain
 The 58 mile/92km stretch of the River Wye winds down through the valley through spectacular limestone gorge scenery and dense ravine woodlands. Superb wildlife, intriguing archaeological and industrial remains and impressive geological features all make it into one of the most fascinating Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Designated in 1971, this unique landscape straddles the border between England and Wales. It includes areas within Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire.
The AONB Management Plan identifies the need to support farmers in taking a positive role in the land management of the area and to ensure that woodland owners manage them in a sustainable way.
The Wye Valley AONB has had 4 trainees since 2011 on the original LEMUR project. Wye Valley new trainees are with LEMUR +
In December 2005 HLF awarded funding to the Herefordshire Nature Trust and its project partners Ambios Ltd (not for profit) and Sheffield Wildlife Trust to develop an innovative and exemplar training scheme that would help improve the quality of skills available to the heritage sector.Project LEMUR offers funded bursary placements that are supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Each trainee receives a training bursary and  a placement.
The LEMUR project has trained 90 funded bursary placements to date, helping to build a network of skilled wildlife professionals.  LEMUR has a 95%+ success rate of getting trainees into paid employment within the environmental sector.
LEMUR +  is the son of LEMUR.  Herefordshire Wildlife Trust have passed the lead for this project to their LEMUR partner Ambios Ltd to run alongside themselves as joint main partner.  Herefordshire Wildlife Trust are responsible for running the rural hub in the west midlands and Wales which supports the South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre.  The partnership of hosts is set to grow in 2016 with an additional three hosts coming on board in the Midlands.  Ambios are the lead orgnanisation within Marine Hub in Devon and work closely with The Marine Biological Association, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust.  This programme now offers both 3 month and 9 month bursary placements to support people who want to work in the environmental conservation sector.
Hereford Wildlife Trust
In order to restore Herefordshire’s wildlife and engage people with the natural world the Trust   works to conserve and enhance biodiversity in a specific suite of Living Landscapes, whilst supporting key habitats and species across the county, to achieve maximum conservation impact.
They act as the prime advocate for biodiversity in the county by working through strategic partnerships to increase the level of public engagement with nature and wildlife, thereby leading to greater support for conservation of Herefordshire’s wildlife.  They have 16 years experience in running structured internships and training for people who are keen to secure skills and employment within environmental conservation.
ReAct helps people affected by redundancy gain new skills and encourages recruiting employers to employ a redundant worker. Employer Recruitment Support funds employers who recruit individuals made t
redundant in the past 3 months. The award offers up to £3,000 paid in four instalments as a contribution towards wage costs Employer Training Support is a separate discretionary fund of up to £1,000 that an employer can put towards the cost of the new recruit’s job-related training.
National Biodiversity Network
The NBN is a collaborative project, but, above all else, it is a partnership, which involves many of the UK’s wildlife conservation organisations, the government and country agencies, environmental agencies, local records centres and also many voluntary groups.  All of these organisations collect and use biodiversity data and they are all committed to making this information widely available. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) also supports specific projects to develop the NBN further.


- Nikki

AONB Presents Farming Awards at Monmouthshire Show

- Posted Tuesday 1 September 2015 by Nikki

The Wye Valley AONB presented its hotly contested Farming Awards to winners Herefordshire farmers Ann and Jim Herbert at the Monmouthshire Show on August 27, 2015.

Councillor Phil Cutter, Wye Valley AONB Joint Advisory Committee Chairman presented the Herberts with the first prize of £400, the Farming Awards Trophy and the winning certificate. The 240 acre Lewstone Farm based at Whitchurch , Herefordshire is well known for producing free range eggs for both the supermarkets and local outlets and has been recognised for high quality free range egg production, receiving the Egg Producer of the Year award from the British Free Range Egg Producers Association in 2013.

From an environmental perspective the farm has been in Higher Level Stewardship for the last 8 years and the introduction of a wildflower meadow and the planting of 300 trees have increased the farm’s biodiversity. However impressive though that is, it is the Herbert’s development of their educational facilities that won through against strong entries from a variety of farms in or adjacent to the Wye Valley AONB in Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire. Lewstone encourages school visits, primarily from south Herefordshire primary schools and have converted a barn into a fully equipped classroom. School parties from the wider areas of Ross on Wye, Monmouth and Stroud regularly visit. Currently the farm averages 30 to 40 school visits per year where children learn about how a working farm operates as well as environmental activities in woodland,  streams and marshland. In previous years Ann and Jim have accommodated up to 90 visits.

The Wye Valley AONB Farming Awards are now in their 8th year. Shortlisted farms were visited and judged by an experienced panel including Andrew Blake Wye Valley AONB Officer , David Price NFU Wales, Simon Cutter winner of the 2013 Farming Awards and Caroline Hanks farming and conservation consultant.

Andrew Blake commented “The judges were really impressed by the quality of the entrants for the 2015 AONB Farming Awards. All the shortlisted farms are making an outstanding contribution to conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the Wye Valley. But the judges were particularly impressed with the educational and conservation work that the Herberts carry out at Lewstone Farm.
With farmland covering 65% of the Wye Valley AONB the Farming Awards are a great opportunity to promote the good work that farmers do in keeping the Wye Valley such a special place for so many people”.

Runner up was Alan Morgan from Gadr Farm near Llangowan, Monmouthshire who received a certificate and runner up prize of £200 for his outstanding contribution to conservation. Over the last 10 years Alan has planted and managed hedgerows and trees, created 16 ponds and four hectares of meadow on his 160 acre farm with sheep, arable and firewood enterprises. Alan was a previous winner in 2009.

Two farms were selected for the Highly Commended Award and received £100 each, together with a certificate. The first Whitehill Farm, Wonastow, Monmouthshire, run by Beryl and Peter Yeomans, also displayed their dedication to conservation management. As part of Glastir Advanced and Glastir Woodland Management schemes they have  planted 7 acres of trees and 5.5 acres of meadow on their 120 acre former dairy farm. They also have sympathetically converted barns into offices and 5* tourism accommodation.

Longley Farm, Stow Green, St Briavels, Gloucestershire was the second farm to be awarded with a Highly Commended certificate. John, Helen and Will Powell run this 550 acre farm under Entry Level Stewardship and have been at the centre of their community for many years. The farm is currently threatened by the proposed expansion of Clearwell Quarry which if granted will take both the farm and a majority of the acreage out of production. Despite these uncertainties the Powells continue to focus on maintaining and improving soil quality which is central to efficient and productive beef and arable enterprises.

Above: Farming Awards Group in front of AONB Marquee left  back David Price Judge Wales NFU, Runner up Alan Morgan Gadr Farm, Monmouthshire, Nick Critchley ,Wye Valley AONB Development Officer, Highly Commended Helen Powell and John Powell, Longley Farm, Stowe Gloucestershire,. Front row from left Councillor Phil Cutter Chairman of Wye Valley AONB JAC, Highly Commended Peter Yeomans and Beryl Yeomans  Whitehill Farm, Monmouthshire , Winners of the Farming Award Ann and Jim Herbert from Lewstone Farm, Andrew Blake Judge and Wye Valley AONB Officer.

- Nikki

Foresters’ Forest Launch

- Posted Wednesday 19 August 2015 by Sharon Seymour

105 new volunteers signed up to register an interest in the variety of projects within this programme. A press release will be launched soon. For further information about this new and exciting large venture please visit The Heritage Lottery Fund -  Forestry Commission Foresters Forest.


- Sharon Seymour

Monmouthshire Walking Festival

- Posted Saturday 28 March 2015 by Sharon Seymour

Walk with us in this centenary year of World War 1 when we discover the people and places that played their part in this Great War and World War 2.

With the beautiful backdrop of Monmouthshire experienced friendly walk leaders will take you to the sites of secret bunkers used by the resistance, to grave of the possibly the last combatant of World War 1 or even discover the vital part played by pigeons whilst walking the Wales Coast Path and much more.

The lengths of walks vary from 3 to a challenging 18 miles plus there is a torchlight walk for the whole family on Halloween with plenty of surprises in store.

Monmouthshire has over a 1,000 miles of footpaths crisscrossing the county and 7 long distance trails which take you through a landscape of stark contrasts: flat coastal wetlands of the Gwent Levels; picturesque mountains in the north, Brecon Beacons National Park; the Wye Valley an AONB and the peaceful rolling farmland of the Usk and Monnow valleys.

The county also boasts 3 Walkers are Welcome towns, Abergavenny, Chepstow and Monmouth and the village of Tintern. These towns are supported by businesses and local people who offer a warm welcome to walkers. 

 For more walks including local heritage walks pdf versions are available to download and print please click here

- Sharon Seymour

Search the Wye Valley AONB site

Latest News from the Wye Valley

Next events at the Wye Valley

Weather at the Wye Valley

  • Mostly Cloudy

    Mostly Cloudy


    Wind: 3.22km/h, NNE

    Sunrise: 7:29 am

    Sunset: 6:19 pm

Landscapes for Life