Stars speak up for wildlife in new film trailer hitting cinemas this weekend

Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry have backed a new campaign from The Wildlife Trusts that calls for a wilder future and for nature’s recovery in the UK.  They have starring roles in a new film trailer of The Wind in the Willows which brings to life the 21st century threats facing the much-loved characters from the children’s classic.

Stephanie Hilborne, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, explains why the film trailer was made: “We are a nation of nature-lovers, yet we live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. If we want to put nature into recovery we have to create a mass movement of people calling for change.”

The Wildlife Trusts aim to build support for strong environmental laws and for a Nature Recovery Network. The devastating wildlife declines of the recent decades have been well documented. What people may not know is there is currently no legislation to help nature recover.

Sir David Attenborough, President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts, says: “We have damaged our rivers, built too many roads and lost too many ponds and meadows.  All of this has happened because our systems and laws that should be keeping nature healthy are failing, and we are losing touch with wildlife.”

Sir David explains that we know how to restore nature, “But we need ambitious new laws to ensure we do this, laws that ensure we map out nature’s recovery.” 

The media release is attached.

You are welcome to use the film graphics and images in this dropbox https://www.dropbox.com/sh/wkt61ji32vnek0l/AAC81hj5LORSSDxlcx-xiNcra?dl=0

Please note that they are for one-off use only in connection with this story and The Wildlife Trusts. All photographers must be credited.

The trailer will be at www.wildlifetrusts.org from Thursday 28th March and then in cinemas across the UK from Friday 29th March
Sustainable Food Cities Newsletter March

Welcome to the Sustainable Food Cities newsletter. We are passionate about towns and cities taking a joined up approach to food and want to help public agencies, NGOs, businesses and communities to work together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live. If you have news, events or questions for discussion for the newsletter get in touch

Fundraising appeal launched as reserve visitor centre prepares for major refurbishment

Durham Wildlife Trust (DWT) has launched an appeal to raise £31,000 to help make vital improvements to the visitor centre at one of the region’s best-loved nature reserves. The work is part of its efforts to re-connect today’s young people with nature.

The Trust is undertaking significant improvements to its visitor centre at Low Barns near Witton-le Wear. The Trust has secured a total of £88,000 from North Pennine Dales LEADER and the Weardale Area Action Partnership (AAP), as well as from the charity’s own reserves, to begin refurbishment work at the visitor centre. A fundraising campaign has been launched to raise £31,000 of additional funding to see the project through to its finish.

Jim Cokill, Director of Durham Wildlife Trust, said: ‘’For more than 50 years our Low Barns reserve near Witton-le-Wear has provided a place where people can connect with nature and we want to make sure that continues. The Wildlife Trust believes that nature should be a part of all of our lives, but we’re competing against all the other pressures and attractions of the modern world for people’s attention.

‘’Low Barns is a magical and well-loved place but the centre was beginning to look a little tired and needed to be improved to provide an attractive destination for visitors.

‘’We’re particularly concerned that children and young people are losing their connection with nature, with wildlife not only lost from the school curriculum but from everyday language – kingfishers are no longer thought to deserve a place in the Oxford Junior Dictionary. A lot of the work we are doing is to make the centre better for families.”

Beginning this week, the car park will be redesigned, making the site safer for pedestrians and allowing the creation of a larger outdoor seating area for families with views across Marston Lake. Large glass doors will be fitted to open up the indoor space and connect it to the outdoors. Zoe Hull, the Trust’s Head of Operations and Development, said: ‘’The improvement works will make Low Barns a real asset for the local community and a place that can host a wider range of events and activities for local schools and community groups. ‘’Low Barns will be able to play a much bigger part in contributing to the local tourism sector, showcasing the beauty of County Durham’s natural environment.’’

The Trust has launched their campaign on Just Giving and they have information available on their website. You can find out more, and donate to the appeal, at https://durhamwt.com/low-barns-appeal/

If you have any queries about the improvements, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0191 584 3112.

Rural Services Network call on Government for a Rural Strategy

n 1st March, the Rural Services Network launched a campaign calling on the Government to develop a Rural Strategy. 

“Rural Communities are frequently overlooked in a policy environment dominated by urban thinking and policy concerns. This often means communities either miss out on the benefits or experience unintended consequences from policies which are poorly thought-through from a rural perspective. It is time for this ‘rural mainstreaming’ to stop. People living in our towns and villages simply cannot afford to wait any longer for politicians to take their concerns seriously and act on them,” said Rural Services Network chief executive, Graham Biggs.

“If rural communities are to be sustainable, the Government must seize this opportunity to work with communities to produce a long-term, funded rural strategy which recognises the contribution rural areas make and have the potential to make to the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation as a whole.”

We are asking all of the Parish Councils and organisations in Rural Areas to support our call and sign up to support our campaign.

Please share this email and the signup link with your fellow Councillors, colleagues and residents.

A Press Release with more information about the campaign can be found here:


Ian prepares for research trip after securing Fellowship 

A North East forestry expert is to spend part of 2019 researching agroforestry in Europe and Africa, sharing his knowledge of a subject which recently featured in BBC Radio 4 series The Archers and which has attained greater significance because of Brexit.

Ian Brown will be taking some of his North East experiences with him on his trip, having been working on agroforestry (the links between farming and forestry) for the North East of England Nature Partnership and its trading arm Capability North East Ltd, which was named after the 18thCentury landscape gardener who was born at Kirkharle in Northumberland.

Ian’s trip came about after he won a Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, the UK’s national memorial to Sir Winston. Each year, it awards Fellowships to UK citizens in a range of fields to enable Churchill Fellows to carry out research projects overseas. The projects are designed to exchange best practice and build greater understanding between peoples and cultures.

On his trip, beginning at the start of April for six weeks, Ian hopes to build on his North-East experiences. In addition to his work advising landowners for Capability North East Ltd, Ian is employed part-time as the regional chair of the Forestry Commission and has been asked to serve on the North East of England Nature Partnership’s group exploring ways to create more wooded areas.

Ian, from Embleton in Northumberland, said of the Churchill Fellowship: “Being interviewed a few months back by Winston Churchill’s grandson was a complete highlight of my life and winning one of the 16 rural places even more so.

“Trees have fascinated me from my pram, to secondary school to career. The fact that agroforestry is a plot in The Archers underlined that the landscape of Britain was about to change because of the Government’s 25 Year Environment plan, Brexit-led farm subsidy changes and a push for climate change action.

“I will travel around Europe by train and Africa by plane – offsetting my carbon through tree planting – and on my return produce a summary of my findings. This is green mission work and working with Capability North East Ltd is such a great synergy. I appreciate them allowing me the time and space to research this nationally important subject.”

Claire Thompson, of Capability North East, said: “This really is a great opportunity for Ian and we are delighted to support his ongoing trees and landscapes research.

“The Nature Partnership will benefit greatly from Ian’s learnings, particularly when considering the significant landscape changes likely to occur following our departure from the European Union and the move towards payments for the services we receive from our environment, such as tree planting to reduce flooding and improved water quality.”

Paul Brannen MEP, Chair of the North East England Nature Partnership, who has forestry responsibilities on parliamentary committees and acted as a referee for Ian’s application, said: “Ian’s timing is excellent. Brexit will, it seems, trigger major funding changes in our countryside for the landowners and tenant farmers of the North East.

“Trees are seen to be part of the solution to so many issues, especially climate change but also water flow management, species diversity and timber production for construction with homegrown timber.”

The North East England Nature Partnership is an independent organisation that was created after the UK government made a commitment to support the creation of Local Nature Partnerships in 2011. Their purpose is to work strategically to ensure that nature is considered in local-decision making and to help develop an environmental strategy in their areas. The North East partnership is based in Durham.


Good afternoon everyone,

Our dates for the rest of March are as follows:
Wednesday 13th 1-4pm-Severe wind warning issued. If the weather is bad tomorrow we will not be on site. Remember to check your emails.
Thursday 14th 1-4pm-Severe wind warning issued. If the weather is bad tomorrow we will not be on site. Remember to check your emails.
Friday 15th 9-2pm
Wednesday 20th 9-2pm
Thursday 21st 9-2pm
Friday 22nd 9-2pm
Saturday 23rd 9-2pm
Wednesday 27th 9-2pm
Thursday 28th 9-2pm
Friday 29th 1-4pm
Saturday 30th 9-2pm 
We need more volunteers on this most precious piece of heritage. With your help we can save this site for future generations. Though DCC has promised much help and aid, as yet none has been given. Despite this we want to encourage all our volunteers that we are making good amazing progress and that we will get there! 
As you may have seen we have no more research days planned for the rest of March. This does not mean we don't still need this done! Beaurepaire is a unique site for many reasons, and one is its wealth of unpublished and messy documents and reports relating to it. So far I have been trying to encourage people at the research group to help me photograph and turn into word documents. However it seems that is not of so ,much interest as independent research! We will deal with trying to make coherent the information we have available so far, but ask that you take on one of our research topics to pursue or one that interests you! We would love to add independent research and reports into the book we aim to create. Please let us know what you would like to do and research and we can give guidance on it and make sure we haven't already covered it. We will be releasing a list of research topics shortly! We aim to have the book ready by June 2019 so all independent research needs to be submitted to us by May 2019.
Events this week
Our main event for this week apart from our on-site work and independent research  is our meeting at the Miner's Institute in Langley Park, 7.30pm Thursday, discussing the site of Old Langley Hall. 
Please share this event with as many as possible as it would be good to have good support for this. See attached poster, and please display this poster on your social media and local notice boards. 
That is about it for this week and any questions, queries, and guidance that you would like to give, please email us! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
With love

Food Durham response to CDP pre submission consultation

Please find attached our response to the latest consultation on the County Durham Plan. This follows 2 previous, more detailed responses to previous consultations.

The consultation is open until Friday 8th  March should you want to make any comments of your own, or repeat some of the points in the attached (short) document. The link is at: http://www.durham.gov.uk/article/7563/Have-your-say-on-the-plan.

Local Access Forum Co Durham - Sheep Killed by Pet Dogs Each Year

A plea has been issued to all dog walkers, asking them to keep dogs on leads in the countryside in order to cut down the number of sheep attacks.

As we move into the new lambing season there have already been reports of dog attacks on sheep in some parts of the country with horrific results, although thankfully not yet in this area. To avoid this happening we would urge all dog walkers to take care when exercising their dogs and be mindful of the possible consequences of a loose dog around a sheep flock.

At this time of year ewes are heavily in lamb which raises additional concerns of abortion due to aggravation by dogs and attacks on vulnerable lambs. ln the past letting dogs off leads has proved fatal to sheep, lambs and other animals being farmed but it has also led to dogs being destroyed, due to the vicious nature of the attacks. As a result, County Durham Local Access Forum is asking dog owners to keep their animals on leads when enjoying the network of paths provided for their enjoyment. 

Some of you may know of a historic place called 'Old Langley Hall'. We would like to investigate into whether this site can be restored and saved! Can all those who know anything about the site, interested in out more, or local and want to get involved attend our first meeting on Thursday 14th March in Langley Park, place tbc. 

North East England Nature Partnership appoints Paul Brannen as new Chair

Since 2014 Paul Brannen has represented the North East of England in the European Parliament.  Throughout this period, he has served on two parliamentary committees, the Environment and Public Health Committee and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.  His most recent piece of legislative work was on Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry the outcomes of which included the protection of peat bogs across the EU.

Building on his earlier work with Christian Aid on climate change Paul has developed a specific area of knowledge pertaining to forestry, agroforestry, engineered timber production, building in wood at height and scale and modular factory housing.  This work sits within the wider bioeconomy, in particular the environmental benefits of the use of wood as a material and the creation of a green jobs economy.  The North East is ideally placed to take a lead in this area and Paul has worked specifically to that end as an MEP in recent years.

At the heart of an expanding North East bioeconomy based on using wood as a feedstock is the urgent need to increase significantly the region’s forest cover.  The numerous societal benefits that would flow from such an approach is where Paul’s MEP agenda and the North East England Nature Partnership (NEENP) strategy significantly overlap, hence Paul’s interest in becoming Chair.

While climate change is a threat it is also an opportunity to recalibrate our approach to our environment in a way that reduces carbon emissions, locks up carbon, increases biodiversity and creates green jobs.  The NEENP has a key role, working alongside the LEP and the local authorities, in creating a sense of opportunity and excitement around an agenda that has the possibility of making the North East of England the greenest English region and thereby making our region the most attractive place in the country to live, work, study, bring up children and retire to.

Paul has a degree in theology from Leeds University and an MBA from Durham University.  He has worked for Christian Aid, Common Purpose, HSBC, the Labour Party and the Anti-Apartheid Movement.  His primary skills are as a campaigner, advocate, communicator, consensus builder and enthuser.  His motivations are climate change, justice and equality.

"Quote Andy Smith, Director at Intimation a full service marketing and communication agency and NEENP communications lead for the executive group"

“We are delighted to appoint Paul as our new Chair.  Paul’s skills and experience span political, environmental, social and economic sectors, which are valuable when promoting the important role of nature across the course of our lives.  Paul’s previous work as an advocator and consensus builder will provide the leadership required for the partnership’s Vision for Environmental Growth to be realised.”

Quote Paul Brannen, NEENP Chair

“We have no more than 12 years to tackle the growing problem of climate change.  The good news is that we can do this in a way that generates good quality green jobs and creates a greener environment.  An environment that is attractive and accessible, that gets the folks of the North East to lead more active lives which will save the NHS huge sums of money by tackling obesity, diabetes, depression and other health problems via fresh air, exercise and better diets.  The environmental challenges we face are immense but we’ve cleaned our once filthy rivers and coastline, we’ve reversed the hole in the ozone layer, so we know where there is a will there is a way”.

Sustainable Food Cities Newsletter February 2019

Welcome to the Sustainable Food Cities newsletter. We are passionate about towns and cities taking a joined up approach to food and want to help public agencies, NGOs, businesses and communities to work together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live. If you have news, events or questions for discussion for the newsletter get in touch

DREAM's First Newsletter

DREAM are a social enterprise delivering community heritage projects and archaeological excavations to save and transform unloved heritage sites into community spaces. In doing so they hope to transform society, promoting community, well-being and heritage over GDP and growth, and founding in both the old and young an appreciation towards both their natural and historic landscape to ensure the care of these places for future generations.

DREAM 's work intends to resolve many common issues of today- saving local historic sites and green spaces; improving community relations and friendships, eliminating isolation and loneliness; providing the opportunity for hands-on work and accomplishment, contributing towards good health physically and mentally; educating entire communities in their local history, restoring in them a 'pride of place' and reducing anti-social behaviour on these sites; providing training in old masonry techniques and craftsmanship which are transferable skills to other jobs and thus reducing area unemployment; and providing enjoyment improving well-being.

More Information

Allotment Policy Consultation

People are being invited to take part in a consultation aimed at maintaining key green spaces in County Durham. 

Allotment tenants, waiting list applicants and residents are all urged to have their say, as Durham County Council reviews allotment provision. This includes looking at how the activities on them should be managed.

The consultation will inform new policies clarifying what tenants will and will not be able to do on their allotments in the future.

If you would like to take part in the consultation and register your views please visit:www.durham.gov.uk/consultation Please feel free to share this information via your own networks as appropriate.

The consultation is open from Monday 4 February until Sunday 31 March.

Volunteers approach tree planting target

Volunteers working for Durham Wildlife Trust (DWT) planted 65 native trees at Thornley Wood as part of the regeneration of the site, taking them ever closer to their target for the area.

The team, part of DWT’s Heart of Durham Project, carried out the work during Durham County Council’s contribution to National Tree Week.

Thornley Wood is owned by Wolsingham Parish Council and since 2016 the Heart of Durham Project has been helping to restore the former quarry and fir plantation to a site where the local community can enjoy the wildlife and magnificent views over Weardale.

The work has been bringing about significant benefits. From a black impenetrable fir plantation, the site is gradually evolving with paths, hedges and an array of wildflowers emerging in the clearings in the summer months.

Many of these plants are flourishing because of the poor soil substrate, a legacy of the site’s other former use as a domestic tip.

So far 1,275 trees have been planted out of the 1,650 trees that were stipulated by the Forestry Commission for the site, leaving them with only 375 to go.

Thornley Wood has also received funding from the Wear Area Action Partnership fund to the value of £5,000, which has enabled Wolsingham Parish Council to create a hard standing car park, fencing and gate access. A further £2,000 from Tesco, from monies charged to shoppers for plastic carrier bags, across three stores in Bishop Auckland, Newton Aycliffe and Darlington, has contributed to funding for hedging.

Durham Tree Health Event

Monday 4th March: Elemore Hall School, Outdoor Classroom, High Pittington, Durham DH6 1QD

This is a free event and we are working with a variety of stakeholders including the:  Durham Woodland Revival Project, York University and Fera.

Subjects will include a Tree Health update from the Forestry Commission, Plant Biology and susceptibility to Ash Dieback disease in the European Ash, Citizen Science and the Observatree Project and information on specific Tree Health grants available from the Forestry Commission.

A final agenda will be forwarded in due course.

To reserve a place please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., please state any dietary requirements as we will be providing lunch.

Welcome to the Land of Oak & Iron Newsletter

We have a busy events programme this winter, packed full of heritage to touch, see and hear about. There are also ideas for winter walks, photos to inspire a trip out and free training opportunities. Or curl up with our new book, Men of Iron, on sale soon at the Heritage Centre.

Woodland Trust - Deer Awareness Day, Newcastle Upon Tyne

As part of its work to encourage and inspire restoration and sustainable management of ancient woodland, the Woodland Trust is collaborating with the Deer Initiative to provide Deer Awareness events to woodland owners, forestry agents and woodland management professionals.

Hide opening will celebrate wildlife art

A transformed bird hide that has combined wildlife and art will be opened on Friday the 15th February.

The Northumbrian Water Bird Hide at Low Barns Nature Reserve near Witton-le-Wear has been the focus of a community art project which has seen schools, volunteers and local artists come together in a celebration of wildlife and the arts.

Daisy Arts, a local community arts organisation, worked with Durham Wildlife Trust in the summer of last year to create a series of workshops to engage local schools and volunteers to create art inspired from nature.

A spokesperson for Daisy Arts said: “It’s been lovely for us to be outdoors and get a sense of place at the Nature Reserve. All those we’ve worked alongside, from the different schools, groups and visitors to Low Barns, have been brilliant. They’ve shared their thoughts and feelings about the reserve. The Northumbrian Water Hide now has an array of colour across every wall and we hope it will be a delight to those that enter the space.”

The artwork has been designed with panels and will form the interior of The Northumbrian Water Bird Hide for all to enjoy. Sue Snowdon, Lord Lieutenant of Durham, will be opening the bird hide for people to view the artwork.

Jackie Holloway, from St John’s School and Sixth Form College in Bishop Auckland, said:

“Working with Daisy Arts and Durham Wildlife Trust staff, our young people were able to explore this wonderful nature reserve and develop their knowledge and understanding of its wealth of flora and fauna.

“We greatly value such opportunities for our young people to engage with external organisations and professional artists as the experiences inspire them, help them to widen their horizons and raise their aspirations.   Enrichment of this kind is essential if we want them to learn to appreciate the world around them and help protect it for the future.”

The project has been funded by Arts Council England and County Durham Community Foundation. 

Sustainable Food Cities Newsletter January 2019

Welcome to the Sustainable Food Cities newsletter. We are passionate about towns and cities taking a joined up approach to food and want to help public agencies, NGOs, businesses and communities to work together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live. If you have news, events or questions for discussion for the newsletter get in touch.

More Information

Environmental project opportunities

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have joined forces on a new Heritage Lottery funded project called Tees-Swale: naturally connected. We are currently in a 16 month development phase and we anticipate that delivery of the full 5 year project will begin in autumn 2020. The project is focused on habitat restoration in Teesdale and Swaledale.

However, we are also looking for community groups who may be interested in taking part in art workshops, outdoor adventure activities or hill farming experiences in Upper Teesdale and Swaledale, and those who feel they cannot enjoy and access the area. We are keen to engage with a wider audience than those who currently visit the area, especially from around Bishop Auckland, West Auckland, Shildon, Newton Aycliffe and Barnard Castle.

If you think your group may be interested please contact Alex, the Tees-Swale Access and Community Engagement Officer, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 01388 528801.

If you would like to be kept up to date please join our Facebook group called Tees-Swale: naturally connected.

[Durham Community Woodlands] Your Making Local Woods Work December Update

Welcome to our December update

This is the 27th edition of Plunkett Foundation's Making Local Woods Work update, and our last for 2018. Season's greetings to you all!

In this month's newsletter we recognise the key role that volunteering plays in the success of running a woodland enterprise, and thank all those who give so generously of their time to ensure community projects thrive - we take our hats off to the volunteers!

Sustainable Food Cities Newsletter December 2018

Welcome to the Sustainable Food Cities newsletter. We are passionate about towns and cities taking a joined up approach to food and want to help public agencies, NGOs, businesses and communities to work together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live. If you have news, events or questions for discussion for the newsletter get in touch.

More Information

Environment Partnership Autumn Newsletter

Please find attached the latest Environment Partnership Newsletter. Our Edible Gilesgate project is featured this time.

Dr Liz Charles, Project Manager (Food)
Usual working days: Wednesday – Friday
Durham Community Action, 9 St Stephen’s Court, Low Willington, County Durham DL15 0BF
Direct line: 01388 742044 Main line: 01388 742040 Mobile: 07825 211746 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Energy Mapping..

Advice in County Durham recently pulled together information on the energy advice available in the county.

Please see attached, a mapping document describing the local energy advice services and their eligibility criteria.

If you notice anything we have missed, or your service provides energy advice, please feel free to send the information over to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be added.

Big Energy Saving Network 

This year, Big Energy Saving Network (BESN) will be delivered by Citizens Advice. In the next few weeks they will begin the application process to select delivery partners. The Big Energy Saving Network is made up of local community groups and charities across Great Britain that can advise on energy saving in the home, switching energy suppliers, different energy tariffs and available support to help vulnerable households stay warm and lower energy bills.

Citizens Advice is looking for expressions of interest so that they can invite you to apply for funding. If you are interested in delivering BESN in 2018/19 please register your interest by completing this form.

If you have any issues completing this form please contact the delivery team by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Visit Big Energy Saving Network at: https://bigenergysavingnetwork.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network