Shropshire Star

Common land project in the Shropshire Hills awarded grant money

A project to re-invigorate common lands in the Shropshire Hills has been awarded part of a £1.9 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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The Stiperstones

The Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is one of the county's most historic and picturesque landscapes.

A grant of more than £350,000 will go towards a new project aiming to further empower the common lands on the AONB.

Common land is land owned, for example, by the local council or the National Trust, but over which other people have certain traditional rights. People usually have the right to roam on it and use it for walking and climbing, like the Stiperstones.

Our Common Cause: Our Upland Commons is a national partnership project run by the Foundation for Common Land with the National Trust as the accountable body. Shropshire Hills, Dartmoor, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District are all part of the project.

Phil Holden, Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership Manager, said it was welcome news.

"It’s great that the Shropshire Hills has the opportunity to be involved in this national project, which is based on the principle that upland commons and the ancient practice of commoning are important.

"These areas of land are of great value for livelihoods, for public enjoyment, heritage, nature and more. They owe much of this value to the system of commoning, especially common grazing, but they are under some pressures and through collaborative working commons can deliver all these benefits even more into the future.

The Stiperstones

"In the Shropshire Hills the project will work on the Long Mynd, Stiperstones and Clee Liberty commons, all with their distinctive characteristics and issues. The project will work with those who hold common rights as well as the owners and a wide variety of other partners, and will help to raise public awareness and understanding."

The money will be directly spent on local projects in the Shropshire Hills including engagement activities, butterfly projects, bracken management and much more.

Julia Aglionby, executive director of the Foundation for Common Land, said the projects would get going later this year with new staff members brought on to manage them.

"We are really excited to get going on this," she said. "It is about bringing farming and nature together.

"We will enhance collaboration between those who manage commons and enabling more people to visit, enjoy and understand commons."

David Renwick, director for England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Common land gives us a window into how generations gone by managed land in a communal way – sharing what nature and the landscape provided for people living in or around them.

"Tradition, memories and folklore developed around how these spaces were stewarded, and these practices live on today giving us a sense of what it might have been like hundreds of years ago.

"However, they can also teach us a lot about how we can use this land now – sharing the vast benefits our landscapes and nature can provide, be it food, fibre, flood alleviation or boosting our wellbeing.

"The shared benefits we get from our natural capital and how land managers can deliver these for their communities, are now more relevant than ever as we seek new approaches to paying for them to be delivered."