Brand new £2.8 million landscape partnership project

  • The Chilterns Conservation Board¹ has received initial support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the development of Chalkscapes, an exciting new partnership project in the northern part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty².  

Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to undertake landscape-scale conservation across 5 focus areas across the project area – 172 km2 of protected landscape , whilst inspiring communities to learn about, explore and take action for their local landscapes. 

Development funding of £232,600 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help the Chilterns Conservation Board and its partners to progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date.

The project will work with urban communities in Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Hertfordshire to find new and creative ways of inspiring more people to understand and care about the landscape on their doorstep.  

Chalkscapes will feature a suite of complimentary projects which will connect people and communities with the landscape and nature around them:  

  • Community Chalk is an outreach project which will connect a greater range of people with our special landscapes. The project will focus especially on young people, black, and minority ethnic groups and people of all ages who tend not to venture into our landscapes and enjoy nature.
  • Routeways & Waysides will help people discover the network of ancient trackways which were once important trade routes and the lifeblood of communities in the North Chilterns, including the Icknield Way.  Many of these historic routes run through our urban centres.
  • Chalkscapes Champions is a community volunteering project where local people will design and lead projects which care for the landscape, wildlife and heritage.  Conservation and environmental partners will support community groups to lead and develop projects and activities which are meaningful for them, whilst inspiring more, and a more diverse range of people, to get involved. 
  • Tales of the Chalk will be a programme of arts activities for all ages inspired by the North Chilterns landscapes, wildlife and cultural heritage, bringing stories of the landscape and its people to life.  
  • Wild Chalk will be the practical conservation and land management work at the heart of the project. Working on a landscape-scale, it will create bigger, more joined up, more diverse habitats for the plants and animals – many of which are rare and in decline – that uniquely live in chalk habitats.  This work will be tied closely to community engagement – giving people the chance to get involved with, and take action for threatened species.

This ambitious project has been created to give urgent support to the wildlife, heritage and communities in the North Chilterns in response to unprecedented and relentless levels of housing, infrastructure growth and environmental pressures.  

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, our connection with nature has never mattered more, and the opportunity to engage with a range of local and nearby urban communities is one which this project plans will be fully explored. 

This is a time when we need green spaces and the powerful benefits of nature more than ever.  An increasing awareness of climate change brings the opportunity to connect people with their local wildlife and special places, and enable them to make a difference to the local and global challenges that we all face – and that the challenges are local, as well as global.

Dr Elaine King, Chief Executive Officer of the Chilterns Conservation Board, said: 

“We’re delighted to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players. The North Chilterns landscape is a special place – it is rich with chalk streams, ancient woodlands, wild flower meadows, and a wide range of amazing wildlife. But it is under huge pressure from road and housing development, pests, diseases and climate change. This exciting new project will enable more people, from very diverse communities and backgrounds, to enjoy and benefit from connecting with nature, while also helping to care for this special landscape on our doorsteps." 

¹ The Chilterns Conservation Board was set up following the passing of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000, to conserve and enhance the natural beauty and increase awareness and understanding of the Chilterns AONB. The Board, which also aims to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities, is supported by Defra and all local authorities in the area. 
² The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was designated in 1965 and covers 833 sq kms (326 sq miles) stretching from Goring, in Oxfordshire, to near Hitchin, in Hertfordshire.  It has a resident population of 80,000. 
Top: Photo by Chris Howe

  • Should the Chilterns become a National Park? - Just one of the topics being discussed in Outstanding Chilterns magazine for 2020/21, jam-packed with news and updates from the Area of Outstanding Natural beauty, is now available to read online.