In its first year the High Weald SDF awarded over £96,000 in grants to a wide range of organisations - helping the delivery of projects worth £468,785. The 28 projects funded included: coppice worker apprentices; fencing traditional hay meadows for conservation grazing; community events; supporting a farmers' market to encourage people to buy local produce; and working with schools to plant mini orchards or install locally made wooden view seats.
Weald On Your Doorstep - Barnett's wood local nature reserve
Project description: The project will encourage access to and increased enjoyment and understanding of the High Weald AONB, for residents on the urban fringes of Southborough and Tunbridge Wells by a site enhancement project. Work will enhance the Local Nature Reserve, install an all weather access path, install a play sculpture with interactive audio interpretation and interpretation.
Cinderhill Woodland Day
Project description: To hold a woodland discovery day with demonstrations of crafts and practical activities for people to participate in.
Project description: To conserve one of the key habitats of the High Weald AONB, its small irregular fields by retaining two hay meadows. These small sites are usually not eligible for funding under national schemes and are often owned by non-farming landowners . Re-fencing will facilitate conservation grazing in two species rich meadows, which have never been ploughed, preventing the livestock from escaping!
Netherfield Community Garden Project
Project description: The project will re-develop the old allotment area into a community garden for local people of all ages to learn about food production, sustainability and low impact living. A composting scheme, wildlife friendly gardening, a tool loan scheme and educational workshops will be established.
Grassland Rescue Package
Project description: Fencing to aid the conservation grazing of a herb rich meadow and traditional orchard.
High Weald Small Landowners Project
Project description: To develop an environmental information pack for smallholders within the High Weald AONB. The pack will include:
* An overview of the High Weald landscape features
* Habitat management and advice on restoration/creation of key features, eg ancient woodland, hedges, woodbanks
* HAP & BAP species information
* Buildings and wildlife
* Information on contractors, machinery and grazing
* Training contacts
* Grant opportunities
* Experimental visits to new small landowners to determine their requirements
Project description: 12 half day visits undertaken by FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group) followed up with a report for the landowners and farmers within the High Weald. The focus will be on how best to manage their land to meet the objectives in with the High Weald AONB Plan and conserve this nationally important landscape.
Little Hurst Meadow Rescue Package
Project description: To fence a meadow to facilitate conservation grazing after a traditional hay crop.
High Weald School View Seats
Project description: To encourage primary schools within the High Weald AONB to use the landscape as a cross-curricular educational resource by providing them with view seats, interpretation training and an interpretation board to display the children's work on. The project will install 9 view seats in schools together with supporting interpretation information.
Ashdown Forest Interpretation Officer
Project description: A funded post to deliver key aspects of the Ashdown Forest Interpretation Strategy, enabling local people and visitors to enjoy the landscape heritage of Ashdown Forest. This need was identified in the Ashdown Forest Visitor Survey as over half the people interviewed found it difficult to orientate themselves and wanted additional walks and information on the area. The interpretation officer will produce interpretation panels, devise a series of Forest walks and improve signing on the Forest and at the Forest Centre.
Seven Wonders of the Weald
Project description: The Seven Wonders of the Weald partnership work together to develop the area as a sustainable rural tourism destination. This project will be led by a partnership of local attractions and promote activities and tourism products, that will increase visitor knowledge and add value to the local economy. This project will develop a website and arranging visits among attractions and fund green tourism awareness workshops.
Meadow Rescue Package
Project description: To fence 3 sides of a meadow and install an access field gate to enable conservation grazing to take place.
Apprentice Coppice Worker Pilot Project
Project description: This project will 'partner' an apprentice alongside an experienced coppice worker to gain 1:1 tuition and skills whilst also providing them with the necessary training and equipment to work safely. It will also provide assistance for the experienced coppice worker during the most active season and combat the risks associated with lone working.
Hoathly Hill Woodchip Boiler
Project description: To install a modern woodchip boiler to provide heating and water for 26 homes and other community buildings at Hoathly Hill. The community will exchange its petrol based fuel for a renewable source of energy with wood sourced locally from the Balcombe sawmill. This will reduce CO2 emissions by using wood, a carbon neutral fuel that supports the local economy and conserves the High Weald's woodland habitats. In the future, the community hopes to offer their facilities as a resource for local groups and schools to experience renewable energy in practice.
Project description: This project is a spectacular ancient wood in the High Weald and is one of the few woods actively coppiced. The Woodland Trust is hoping to buy the wood to secure its long term future for people to enjoy.
East Sussex Depicted
Project description: The project will help to protect historic documents that are regularly used by a wide range of people. The documents suffer physically each time they are handled and need to be preserved so that the data they contained is available for future generations. Digitising these maps will enable the information to be shared in a more flexible format and without damaging the records. It will also make access easier for people, especially those with physical disabilities.
Lankhurst Meadow SNCI
Project description: Grazing is the only means to maintain the number of wildflowers and grasses within the sward that gives the meadow its SNCI status. A recent survey advised grazing following a hay cut as the best management to reduce rank grass. The SDF grant will contribute towards the installation of 420m of stock proof fencing and a gate for conservation grazing.
Meadow Rescue Package
Project description: To fence a meadow using chestnut post & rail and stock proof netting to enable conservation grazing.
Producing More from the High Weald AONB
Project description: To encourage more local producers in the AONB to participate in farmers market and raise awareness amongst the public of the benefits of sourcing local food. This will be delivered through a farmers' market promotional booklet (800 produced), 4 visits to producers and work with local communities.
Project description: To produce a small farm training leaflet for distribution to encourage more small holders to participate in training. 2000 leaflets produced for distribution by the Small Farm Training Group and other organisations.
4x4 vehicle for the Weald Grazing Network
Project description: There is a need for local producers to be able to borrow a towing vehicle and livestock trailer to move livestock and equipment locally. The provision of a 4x4 Landrover and the use of the WHI trailer will meet the needs of the Weald Grazing Network members. Many of the network members have to hire a trailer and 4x4 vehicle to move native livestock to undertake conservation grazing on relatively uneconomic fields, which adds to the overall costs and makes it even more unprofitable.
Lightweight Machinery for Woodland work
Project description: The AONB has a significant amount of England's ancient woodland and there is a need for small scale machinery to work these sensitive sites and ensure that they are not damaged. Many traditional coppice workers do not have access to this equipment, which results in woods being damaged by unskilled and insensitive contractors or trees are left creating future problems. The project will help fund a second-hand compact tractor to use as a small scale forwarder/skidder unit in coppice woodlands in the AONB and a vehicle mounted winch for felling and extracting awkward trees that are often ignored and left by traditional coppice workers thus storing up a legacy of problems for the future.
Equipment for processing sweet chestnut
Project description: To purchase a second-hand cundy peeler (a standard unit within the sweet chestnut industry) to produce post & rail fencing and other fencing products.
Species Rich Meadow
Project description: To install a field gate and undertake repairs to the fence to permit conservation grazing.