It’s not easy to write a concise summary of a 5-year programme, but here goes!
The Heart of Exmoor Scheme championed Exmoor National Park’s moorland landscape heritage for 5 years (Jan2011-Dec2015).
This was a Heritage Lottery Funded Landscape Partnership Scheme with a budget of £1.2 million managed by the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership (EMLP) comprising 12 organisations with Exmoor National Park Authority as lead partner. Arabella Amory from The Exmoor Society chaired the group. A small staff team delivered the projects:
- Scheme Manager Jason Ball. MCMI (Dip Mgt), MCIEEM.
- Moorland Heritage Officer Faye Balmond. MA.
- Exmoor Pony Officer Linzi Green.
- Moorland Education Officer David Rolls. MSc.
We ran 19 projects across 3 themed programmes:
- Programme 1: Reconnecting People with Moorland Heritage
- Programme 2: Reconnecting Livelihoods to the Moorland
- Programme 3: Reconditioning the Moorland Landscape
The Heart of Exmoor Scheme helped thousands of people to enjoy and appreciate the moorland, and supported those who take care of this precious landscape – farmers and commoners, landowners, rangers and volunteers. Thanks to everyone involved, we were able to inspire visitors, create exciting educational resources, research the moorland’s natural and cultural heritage and help to conserve it for future generations.
More than 5,000 volunteer days contributed to the scheme’s success, valued at over £400,000! A small army of people worked in partnership with the staff team, drawing upon immense expertise and energy from not just within the Partner organisations but also volunteers from all walks of life – the farming community, local businesses, researchers, ecologists, archaeologists, artists, storytellers, students and the retired – all sharing their enthusiasm for the moorland.
The Heart of Exmoor Scheme engaged more than 14,000 visitors at events and over 7,000 on school visits. The scheme contributed significantly to events such as the Exmoor Archaeology Forum and the Exmoor National Park’s family-friendly Big Adventure Days. We established major new events such as Bogtastic, the Exmoor Wildlife Forum and the Exmoor Pony Festival.
The Partnership helped more than 560 trainees develop their moorland management skills, employed 3 farmers as Moorkeepers, funded 3 moorland apprenticeships, and supported moorland managers to organise 26 practical demonstrations and 31 workshops about issues important to them – sharing experience and knowledge of livestock, scrub, bracken, burning, etc.
The scheme invested £1.2 million in Exmoor’s moorland landscape and the local community, including: £130,000 in landscape grants, £11,000 for Scheduled Ancient Monuments, £20,000 in moorland management equipment and over £32,000 to help Exmoor’s free-roaming moorland pony herds (including £16,000 in Exmoor Pony Grants).
- Hailed as a success by HLF: a relatively low-cost scheme punching above its weight.
- The most striking aspect of this Heritage Lottery Funded scheme was undoubtedly its immense capacity to foster active partnership working and participation.
- Massive impact with community engagement – not just in Exmoor National Park but also through outreach far beyond its boundaries and to river valley communities downstream.
- Brought volunteers and professionals together to work on groundbreaking investigative and interpretive moorland archaeology in our Community Archaeology project.
- Provided 52 wildlife skills workshops, and supported major wildlife surveys and campaigns e.g. RSPB Moorland Bird Survey, Exmoor Wild Watch, the Exmoor Crayfish Project.
- Created the online Moorland Classroom with educational resources for 10 moorland sites, and the River Lyn. Produced a World War II teaching pack and 4 Archaeology Loan Boxes, all backed by outreach work, hundreds of school visits, and inspirational teacher training.
- Moorland management was a key aspect. Pilot projects such as Moorkeepers and Demonstration Moors led onto innovations such as Graze the Moor demonstrative study on Molland Moor.
- Added new data and resources to Exmoor National Park’s Historic Environment Record (HER) including finds, geophysics data, drawings, photographs and more than 20 archaeology reports.
- Delivered 5 major landscape character projects and 10 small landscape projects.
- Published the Moorland Birds of Exmoor guide, A Field Guide to the Royal Forest of Exmoor, accessible route Photo Trails, 4 Archaeology Walks, 9 digital reconstructions of landscape scenes, and 8 Sounds of the Exe films – enchanting audiovisual snapshots of the Exe Valley.
The Heart of Exmoor Scheme was financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Exmoor National Park Authority and many local partners and funders. Programme 2, Reconnecting Livelihoods was RDPE funded by WSLA (Western Somerset Local Action) and L4TND (Leader for Torridge and North Devon) and by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Other major funders included the Heathcoat and Amory Trusts through The Exmoor Society, The Exmoor Trust, The Environment Agency and English Heritage.
Contributions in cash and in kind from project partners and Scheme Partners helped immeasurably. The vast contribution of volunteer time effectively increased scheme value from £1.2m to £1.6m!