Incorporating the Bromyard Downs, the North East Herefordshire Hills rise up above Bromyard.
Meandering south from Leominster to Hereford, the Lugg and its floodplain contain the largest Lammas meadows in the UK.
The Malverns are a majestic high ridge, set against foothills of fields, copses and orchards, once the hunting chase of the Bishop of Hereford.
An intimate landscape of woodlands, commons, grasslands and orchards defined by encircling ridges of Silurian Limestone.
Herefordshire Wildlife Trust reserves form the core of an intricate web of small grasslands, overgrown hedges, coppice plots, woodlands, quarries and cliffs.
A pastoral upland-fringe landscape of commons, small fields, hedges and brooks, with some stunning grasslands and brooks.
Conifer covered, steep-sided hills above incised river valleys with remnant open common, Chase and wood pasture.
Creating Living Landscapes for Herefordshire
Illustration: Susannah English
A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature championed by The Wildlife Trusts since 2006. It is a new way of thinking about how we manage land to do more for wildlife, people and the economy.
Isolated fragments of wildlife-rich land
Outside of a very few places, natural habitats have been lost on an unprecedented scale and many species, both common and rare, are in long-term decline. As the demand for land for agriculture, housing and development has increased, so the room for wildlife and natural processes has decreased. Together HWT’s 57 reserves cover only around 340 hectares of Herefordshire. The average reserve size is 5.7 ha and many are surrounded by intensively managed land and could be considered isolated islands.
These isolated areas of protected land are now the basic minimum we need to conserve nature into the future. The founders of many Wildlife Trusts fought to save these special places - woods, marshes, meadows, moorland - but these were emergency measures, taken against a tide of widespread destruction to our natural habitats; refuges from which it was always hoped that nature would re-emerge when the time was right.
A Living Landscape is an ecologically functioning landscape (such as a river catchment) that can adapt to climate change; provide resilience and connectivity for wildlife; access, enjoyment and inspiration for people and a sustainable, low carbon contribution to the economy.
In a Living Landscape...
.....wildlife is abundant and flourishing, both in the countryside and our towns and cities
.....whole landscapes and ecosystems are restored
.....wildlife is able to move freely through these landscapes and adapt to the effects of climate change
.....communities benefit fully from the fundamental services that healthy ecosystems provide
.....everyone has access to wildlife-rich green spaces and can enjoy and be inspired by the natural world
To achieve our vision for Living Landscapes, where wildlife is flourishing and recovering from past decline, now we need to think bigger and longer-term and build on the foundations laid by the work of past generations of conservationists. We need to work with partners, landowners and local communities to restore these natural landscapes.
Herefordshire is a predominantly rural county and has great scope for this approach to conservation. It is more wooded than any other area in the West Midlands and has over 2,500 hectares of common land. Alongside HWT’s many reserves, there are many sites that are managed for conservation by other organisations and individuals. Our priority now is to act on a broader front to minimise the isolation of our reserves and to restore, recreate and reconnect Herefordshire’s habitats.
In Herefordshire, we have identified 7 areas which can be approached as Living Landscapes. Doward , Lugg Valley, North East Herefordshire Hills, North West Herefordshire Uplands, Black Mountain Valleys, Malvern Hills and Woolhope Dome. In each area we will work alongside partner organisations and local communities to support truly living landscapes.