Cheviot Futures

United in a Changing Landscape

Cheviot Futures - Phase 1 work completed

Since early 2009, Cheviot Futures has been working hard to deliver a variety of work to address the impacts of climate change on rural Northumberland. Below is a description of some of the work we have been doing since then. it includes work funded by Northumberland uplands Local Action Group and some of the wider work the partners have been doing.

Lowlands - Leader Funded

Access and Interpretation at West Fenton

1. The new multi user access trail for West Fenton has been specifically designed to cater for the diverse needs of visitors of all ages and abilities. The trail incorporates sections of flood bank and allows visitors to see and experience the new wetland habitats created through the River Till Wetland Restoration Project. The 1 mile loop includes:
- 2 bridges/boardwalks totalling 75m in length
- 5 seating areas and 2 hides

2. A new green classroom, designed in the shape of a hill fort has been constructed in a sheltered corner, close to the main access route. A living wall of willow will be planted around the classroom, to provide shade, shelter and sensory stimulation.
A new access path passes through a new planted area of wet woodland, to link the classroom with the main trail.

3. Audio trail
Using digital technology, an audio trail has been developed to provide interest and interaction with the surrounding environment. Eight points along the access trial, over looking areas of interest or note, have been "signposted" and these relate to 1-4 minute audio files. Topics covered include floodplains, the SSSI and SAC, local history, farming, new habitats.
Visitors will be able to download the audio files from the Fenton Centre website, or access them via Fenton Centre MP3 players.

4. The design and installation of interpretation panels for the Fenton Centre. These panels demonstrate the potential and real consequences of Climate Change on the farm at West Fenton, and the actions that are being developed through Cheviot Futures to address these.

5. Whole farm trail - a leaflet has been designed to provide information at key points along the wider farm trail. The aim is to encourage visitors to go out a see and find out for themselves.

Lowlands - Non Leader Funded

1. Soil Erosion Wind Brakes
Wind erosion of the light sandy soils of the Milfield Basin has been identified as one of the areas of concern by the Till Catchment Sensitive Farming Team. With climate change, the forecast is that this problem is only going to get much worse.
The main areas/fields on the farm prone to wind erosion have been identified, and a series of measures are being considered and put into place.
Cheviot Futures is contributing towards an extensive package of varied wind management techniques, which include:
•beetle banks and tall grass strips to provide low level protection
•targeted tree and scrub planting along exposed boundaries

On completion, the scheme will deliver approximately,
•10km of fencing and tall grass margins
•7km of wind management tree and shrub planting
To date, 7km of fencing and 3km of planting has been completed. The remaining planting will be carried out during the 2009/10 planting season.

2. Wider benefits:
•a unique opportunity to access the open countryside and experience the sights, sounds and smells of the diverse wetland habitats.
•breaking down barriers to disabled and less mobile members of the community; enjoying wildlife and the countryside by providing a wide, flat low gradient route with regular resting and information points.
•provides the opportunity to create a linkage between local tourist attractions of the Fenton Centre and the Doddington Diary with the nearby market town of Wooler.
•demonstration of climate change adaptation measures
•an opportunity to better understand the real multi-functional value of wetlands
•a diverse educational resource that will develop and evolve.

Uplands - Leader Funded

•Display and practical event at the Glendale Show Children’s Day using two new Cheviot Futures educational jigsaws.
•Researched , designed and installed new interpretive panels about Climate Change and Cheviot Futures in the Ingram Visitor Centre. Additional interpretive panels currently being designed and fabricated for inside the Centre and outside to describe the work currently taking place in the river outside of the Centre.
•Research and design work underway to install 6 sound posts in the Breamish Valley to interpret Climate Change.

Uplands - Non Leader Funded

1. Research
Completed a comprehensive survey of all of the peatland habitats in the Cheviot Hills, recorded onto GIS with details of the vegetation type, condition and including mapping of artificial drainage channels. This is available to all of the partners and has been actively used to help develop around 15 Higher Level Stewardship Agreements this year for farms in the Cheviot Hills. The agreements incorporate many of the identified outputs for the upland area of Cheviot Futures e.g. peatland restoration including grip blocking , moorland burning plans. Total value of these agreements is circa £3 million.

2. Practical work
•Completed restoration works to High Bleakhope bridge following the floods of September 2008 to incorporate more sustainable methods of protecting the bridge abutments. Financed through three way contributions from Cheviot Futures, NCC Highways and the Northumberland Estates.
•Wildfire/multi-functional water resource currently being designed. Site identified and initial consents agreed, planning permission in-hand and contractor identified. Aim to have completed by early 2010 with three way financial contributions.

3. Interpretation
•Full page article published in the 2009 National Park Visitor Guide, 35,000 copies distributed this year.
•On-going development work taking place with the Northumberland Cycle Hubs Project and a potential private business to create cycle routes that will link Ingram, Wooler and the Fenton Centre, linked to interpretive materials including GPS technology.

4. Training
Major multi-agency training event commissioned to take place in March 2010 to test response to Wildfire, including use of newly created wildfire pond.

The delivery of Cheviot Futures is led by Tweed Forum in the Lowlands and Northumberalnd National Park in the Uplands.