What we do

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The Howardian Hills was recognised nationally in the late 1940s as one of the finest landscapes in the country. It was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1987. On Wednesday 22 November 2023, all Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty became National Landscapes.

Initiatives within the Howardian Hills National Landscape are co-ordinated by a Joint Advisory Committee (JAC), supported by the Howardian Hills staff team.

Main areas of work include:

Hedge planting near Bulmer

Howardian Hills 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 Howardian Hills staff team.

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.


Providing grant aid to land managers for planting new hedges, restoring hedgerows, 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, traditional road sign fingerposts, Listed Buildings At Risk etc.


Carrying out environmental improvement works and supporting local village shops and services.


Preparing self-guided route leaflets to allow visitors to explore the Howardian Hills National Landscape and support the local economy.

Planning and Development

Commenting on a wide range of Strategies that could affect the Howardian Hills. 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 Howardian Hills staff team: acting directly to provide grant aid, comment on planning applications, deliver projects and 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 Howardian Hills staff team, partners and volunteers.
  • Partnership working with external organisations: to influence their own strategies and programmes of work to help deliver the Howardian Hills Management Plan.
  • Volunteers: who help deliver programmes of work and assist with year-to-year practical habitat management tasks, site surveying and promotional work.

The Howardian Hills National Landscape Partnership

The conservation, enhancement and promotion of the Howardian Hills is dependant on the support offered by a network of partner organisations and authorities.

The Howardian Hills Partnership is funded by Defra and North Yorkshire Council.

Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) composition and functions

The JAC was established in 1992. Its main responsibility is to guide the management of the Howardian Hills and to oversee the work of the Howardian Hills staff team. JAC members have a key role in implementing, monitoring and reviewing the Howardian Hills Management Plan and generally promoting the National Landscape.

The JAC comprises the relevant local authority, statutory agencies, land owning and farming and community interest groups. In total, 8 organisations are represented on the JAC. These are:

The JAC meets twice a year, in Spring and Autumn. 

The Terms of Reference of the JAC are to:

  • Promote awareness and understanding of the Howardian Hills for the purposes for which it was designated.
  • Advise local authorities and other bodies on countryside conservation, informal recreation and environmental management issues affecting the Howardian Hills.
  • Advise on the preparation and implementation of the Management Plan.
  • Consider and advise on development plan policies, proposals and reviews as they relate to the Howardian Hills National Landscape.
  • Discuss major issues affecting the character of the Howardian Hills and, where appropriate, make recommendations.
  • Act as a forum where the organisations represented can discuss and co-ordinate their activities.
  • Suggest priorities for action, agree and monitor an annual work programme and identify the resources required to carry out this work.

Officer Working Group

A small working group of officers from North Yorkshire Council and Natural England provide the Howardian Hills staff team with specialist advice and guidance.

Photo Credit: Header – Bluebells Bulmer Hag by Harry Kingman

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