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In March 2019, the six of us started to meet to discuss the possibility of launching a Community Land Trust in the Marches.
The idea initially came from a report written by Richard Keymer and Jonathan Brown about the Stepping Stones project in the Shropshire Hills.
Below is a detailed summary of the background to the establishment of the Middle Marches Community and Trust.
Background to the establishment of the Middle Marches Community Land Trust
The Shropshire Hills contain two large upland nature reserves, the Long Mynd, owned and managed by the National Trust and the Stiperstones, owned and managed by Natural England.
The two organisations decided together that there was a good opportunity to establish a project to create linkages between the two sites which, together with improved management, would help make them bigger, better and joined – key aspirations for improving England’s network of protected sites.
The project was called ‘Stepping Stones’ and in 2015 one of us, Richard Keymer, undertook a contract for Natural England and the National Trust to carry out a scoping study for the project. This study was able to build on a long history of landscape scale and community based projects in the area, most recently a Landscape Partnership Scheme in the Stiperstones and Corndon area, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The objectives of the Stepping Stones Project are to:
- Improve the ecological viability and climate resilience of the habitats and species on the Long Mynd and Stiperstones through better ecological connectivity (stepping stones and corridors) between these two important sites.
- Increase populations of the special wildlife species of the Shropshire Hills.
- Help buffer the two sites from change by increasing the extent of important habitats found on and around the Long Mynd and the Stiperstones and by improving the conservation management of neighbouring land and land between the two sites where possible.
- Where possible, to do this in perpetuity.
The last bullet point relates to acquiring land for conservation purposes, amongst other things, and can really only be achieved by establishing an independent Trust which can act unhindered by bureaucracy. In 2016 the National Trust and Natural England let a contract to Richard Keymer and Jonathan Brown to set out the background and requirements to establishing a Community Land Trust in the Marches.
In 2019, Richard Keymer, Jonathan Brown and four others decided that the time was right to proceed with the establishment of the Middle Marches Community Land Trust.
What We Do
WORK WITH ORGANISATIONS
We work with existing organisations and individuals to improve the connections in the landscape through sympathetic management and habitat recreation.
ACT AS AN ADVICE HUB
We share information, advice, skills, expertise and education for those managing, or seeking to buy and sell, land.
WORK WITH LANDOWNERS
Helping landowners to manage wildlife sites sustainably.
BUY & MANAGE LAND
Buying and managing land of high wildlife value for conservation purposes.
SUPPORT LOCAL FOOD PRODUCTION
Supporting the production of quality food by looking after land and livestock.
To help create an ecologically healthy and sustainable countryside in the hills of the Middle Marches to inspire both residents and visitors.
Your Support Makes a HUGE Difference
Since our launch in 2019, the steering group has been busy laying the foundations for Middle Marches to be an active player, not only by supporting landowners to be responsible stewards of their land for future generations, but also taking on the management of farms and smallholdings to enhance their biodiversity and production of local food.
Your support has helped us to:
- Draw up a register of skills and useful contacts that our 100+ supporters possess. Let us know what skills you have!
- Negotiate with a local Trust over the shared use of premises that will provide an office, a meeting place and storage space
- Investigate the purchase of a wildlife rich smallholding
- Participate in a network of local landowners aiming to improve water quality in the Rea Brook
- Line up expert speakers on topics such as enhancing soil quality and bee habitats
Get in touch
Enterprise House, Station Street, Bishops Castle, SY9 5AQ
07497 142 485 (Jonathan)