Facilitation Fund


A Facilitation Fund in the Blackdown Hills AONB

The Blackdown Hills Farming and Woodland Group is a training and collaboration network for farmers, woodland owners and other land managers within the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  It began in spring 2018 and will run for three years.  Its work is financed through the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund, a national programme to bring land managers together to improve the local natural environment at a landscape scale.  The Blackdown Hills group is now one of 98 such locally-led Facilitation Fund groups across England.

There are currently nearly 60 members of this Facilitation Fund group, and more can join as the scheme progresses.  Members are identifying the subjects they want to learn and share knowledge about, and a Facilitator, Gavin Saunders, is arranging a programme of events to pursue their priorities.  Since the spring there have been events looking at Ash Dieback disease, woodland management for woodfuel, wildflower seed harvesting, and management of valley mires, meadows and common land.  Members have also been signposted to opportunities for woodland harvesting advice, soil aeration and other activities.

Events being planned include natural approaches to flood alleviation, woodland creation, hedgerow management, scrub control and veterinary issues with grazing rough wetland.  Beyond these specific subjects, the group is seeking to build closer, more fruitful connections between farmers and land managers, improving collaboration, combatting isolation, building friendships and engendering a sense of shared experience in looking after the natural environment. 

The group is overseen by a steering group of farmer members and partner organisations, and is administered by Butterfly Conservation, with support from the Blackdown Hills AONB.  

The Facilitation Fund is investing in the Blackdown Hills Rough Grazing Association to provide a long-term basis for continuing this network of collaboration into the future.  Events currently advertised on this website are those being organised through the Facilitation Fund.

To find out more about joining the Group, or about the training being offered and planned, contact Gavin Saunders