Big blue skies, a new bridge and wetland habitat, and a number of inspirational speakers welcomed over 70 delegates to Calstock last week, as the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team held its first in-person Annual Forum for three years.
Representatives from local organisations, businesses and the community were welcomed to Calstock Arts, for an afternoon and evening of talks and a site visit to the newly-created wetlands.
The theme ‘Working Partnerships for a New National Landscape?’ highlighted the achievements of productive partnership projects and the continuing need to work together in order to continue to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Tamar Valley.
Chair of the AONB Partnership, Martin Howlett, welcomed all to the Forum and introduced speakers, including George Holmes from the National Trust’s Cotehele Estate and Perry Burns from Westcountry Rivers Trust who spoke about their role within the Tamara Landscape Partnership Scheme.
Jess Jeans from Bohetherick Farm and Tamar Grow Local’s Rachael Forster highlighted how they are benefitting from the AONB’s Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, Rob Price (Environment Agency), Jane Kiely (Tamar Community Trust) and Calstock Parish and Cornwall Councillor Dorothy Kirk detailed the River Tamar Walkway & Wetland Project partnership, that includes the recent installation of a footbridge to retain the section of the Tamar Valley Discovery Trail that passes the wetland.
Dan Cooke, Tamar Valley AONB Manager, spoke about the highlights from a busy year, as well as the proposed new purpose, powers and resources that the Government has planned for all AONBs, along with a proposed rebranding as a new National Landscape. Will Darwall, the new Scheme Manager for the AONB’s £3.2 million National Lottery Heritage funded Tamara Landscape Partnership, finished by sharing details on the ten community, environmental and heritage projects now up and running.
A celebration of the walkway and wetland project was held on the footbridge, with Calstock School pupils and staff cutting the ribbon, followed by the cutting of a specially-commissioned cake back at Calstock Arts. The official opening of the project will be held in due course once all long-term land ownership arrangements have been finalised.
The Forum continued with a new Valley Champions Awards presentation. Each year, the Tamar Valley AONB will present up to two people with an award, to recognise those individuals who go above and beyond in their contribution towards the conservation & enhancement of the AONB. This year’s Valley Champions are Jane Kiely (Tamar Community Trust) for her unstinting work with the River Tamar Walkway & Wetland Project and numerous others, and Pat Gould for the many years he has dedicated to both the Tamar Community Trust and Tamar Valley TLC as Treasurer. Local artist, Gudrun Taresch, produced this year’s awards.
Former Chair of the Tamar Valley AONB, Neil Burden, was thanked with a local apple tree ‘Tamar Beauty’ grafted by Mary Martin and other gifts, for the support and dedication he has given to the Tamar Valley AONB over the past 25 years.
The event concluded with poetry readings from Ysella Sims from her book ‘You Are Here’. Ysella focuses on nature and connection, and selected poems about people and places on the Bere peninsula.
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All images © Tamar Valley AONB/Fotonow