The Howardian Hills was recognised nationally in the late 1940s as one of the finest landscapes in the country and designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1987.
Initiatives within the AONB are co-ordinated by a Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) consisting of representatives from North Yorkshire County Council, Hambleton and Ryedale District and Parish Councils, Country Land and Business Association, Natural England, Forestry Commission, National Farmers Union and the Ramblers. The work of the JAC is delivered via the professional staff in the AONB Unit.
The main work of the Joint Advisory Committee consists of:
AONB Management Plan – reviewing the 5-yearly plan, in consultation with interested organisations and local people. The Plan provides a strategic framework for all the initiatives carried out by the JAC organisations and the AONB Unit. The current and previous Management Plans can be found in the Library section of the website, together with the Annual Action Programmes.
Land management advice – giving advice to farmers and landowners on the conservation management of farmland and woods. This includes advice on practical management options, as well as the grants available and help with applying for them.
Landscape – providing grant aid to land managers for planting new hedges, restoring gappy hedges, repairing drystone walls, creating new ponds, planting small copses and individual hedgerow trees, etc.
Wildlife and biodiversity – providing advice and grant aid to both conserve and restore important and scarce habitats such as fens, unimproved grassland, ponds and Ancient Woodlands.
Historic environment – providing advice and grant aid to conserve or repair historic features, e.g. old lime kilns, round barrows (tumuli), mileposts, Park walls, mills, roadsign fingerposts, Listed Buildings At Risk , etc.
Communities – carrying out environmental improvement works and supporting local village shops and services.
Recreation – preparing self-guided route leaflets to allow visitors to explore the AONB and support the local economy.
Planning and Development – commenting on a wide range of Strategies that could affect the AONB. Providing comments on the potential impact of planning applications and other works carried out by Utilities or Local Authorities.
This work is delivered via a variety of mechanisms:
- The staff of the AONB Unit: acting directly to provide grant aid, comment on planning applications, give advice, etc.
- Action with partner organisations: to draw down external funding for specific programmes of work, e.g. the Rural:Urban Schools Twinning Project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and delivered by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and the Monument Management Scheme, funded by Historic England and delivered by the AONB Unit.
- Partnership working with external organisations: to influence their own strategies and programmes of work to help deliver the AONB Management Plan.
- Volunteers: who help deliver programmes of work like the Rural:Urban Schools Twinning Project and Monument Management Scheme. They also assist with year-to-year practical habitat management tasks, site surveying and promotional work.