The Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has received an earmarked grant of just over £1.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund through its Landscape Partnership programme for the Down to the Coast – East Wight Landscape Partnership project, it has been announced.
The Down to the Coast – East Wight Landscape Partnership programme focuses on the uniquely intricate and diverse landscapes formed by the rivers draining the eastern tip of the Isle of Wight (the East Wight). The East Wight is among the UK’s richest areas for wildlife with a complex geology underpinning the incredibly varied landscapes. However, social, economic and environmental processes are both contributing to and detracting from the diversity and distinctiveness for which it is valued. Through the Down to the Coast programme, local people will have an opportunity to work together with conservation organisations to help manage these landscapes in a conservation-led scheme with an emphasis on training and community participation that will leave a lasting legacy for the East Wight landscapes and the people who enjoy them.
Development funding of £103,000 has also been awarded to help the East Wight Landscape Partnership progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. Some of the historic and cultural heritage contributing towards the unique character of the Down to the Coast landscapes is at risk of degradation or loss. While in some instances this risk is tangible and broadly understood such as dilapidated structures or degraded habitat, others are more subtle, such as unsympathetic management practices or a lack of young people developing the skills required to look after the heritage in the longer term. Over the course of the programme, projects will look to improve the landscapes and provide young people with the skills and opportunities they need to develop a lasting relationship with their local areas.
Although very different it is hoped that the Down to the Coast scheme will equal the achievements of the West Wight Landscape Partnership.
Fiona Hanna from Wight AONB said:
“We are ecstatic to receive this funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The East Wight has some of the most diverse and interesting landscapes found anywhere in Britain and this money will help to safeguard them as well as provide opportunities for people to learn the importance of their local area and how to help manage it for the Island’s future generations to enjoy.”
Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said:
“The East Wight is a stunning part of the UK’s distinctive landscape. HLF has already supported a very successful Landscape Partnership scheme to the west of the Island and these new proposals will complement what has already been achieved there. The Island is known for its scenery, wildlife and outdoor activities and our investment will play an important part in protecting the existing natural heritage assets as well as increasing the local community’s understanding of their environs.”
Further information regarding the East Wight Landscape Partnership – Down to the Coast scheme can be found on the Wight AONB website.