Stunning limestone pavements, ancient woodlands, intimate orchards and meadows and an impressive coastline make Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty one of England's finest landscapes. The work of the AONB Partnership aims to conserve and enhance this extraordinary place now and for the future.
Joan and John honoured
June 21st, 2016
Joan Jackson and John Wilson will be honoured for their long service to Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at the Landscapes for Life Awards in Lilleshall, Shropshire next week. The Awards recognise those who have dedicated themselves to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty for 20 years or more.
Joan Jackson has made an outstanding contribution to both the conservation and governance of the AONB since the late 1970s.
Five years after the AONB’s designation in 1972, Joan was one of the Joint Parishes Committee which successfully found funding to produce a landscape management study for the area. This gave guidance on landscape management and recommended setting up both a Countryside Management Service (now the AONB unit) and a membership charity to support the conservation of the AONB (The Arnside/Silverdale Landscape Trust, which now has over 1000 members).
Since then Joan has continued to sit on the AONB Committee, first as Yealand Conyers Parish Council representative and then as the representative of the NFU – a post she still holds. Joan’s experience, knowledge and skills in farming and landscape management and her standing in the village and local farming communities have been extremely valuable to the AONB Partnership over many years. She has been and continues to be a great advocate for the AONB. Many a time she has arrived at AONB meetings on her tractor!
As a local farmer and landowner, and a stalwart member of the local community, Joan has always taken great pride in her family farm and its setting within the AONB. Joan runs a small-scale livestock farm specialising in a minority breed, Masham Sheep, for which she has won first-prize awards for many years at northern County Shows for the quality of her livestock and wool. Joan has been exceptionally committed to maintaining the traditional landscape of her farm, a traditional Westmorland style farmhouse and outbuildings with limestone grassland, hedgerow field boundaries, stone barns and a range of other features.
Despite being a hard-working farmer, she has always remained passionate about, committed to and supportive of the AONB.
John Wilson has made an exceptional contribution to nature conservation in the Arnside & Silverdale AONB over more than 50 years being one of the most influential individuals in conserving the biodiversity of the area since the AONB was designated.
John, who grew up in Warton, was appointed the first Warden of a new RSPB nature reserve, Leighton Moss, in Silverdale, in May 1964. Leighton Moss was a little known reserve, welcoming just 375 visitors in its opening year. John worked there as Warden, then Senior Warden, until his retirement in 2000. The reserve is now one of the most popular RSPB reserves in the country receiving around 110,000 visitors each year.
John played a vital role in creating and maintaining the reedbed at Leighton Moss, the largest in the north west, making it the best possible home for the wildlife that lives there, including avocets, bitterns, marsh harriers and otters. John has carried out an incredible 40 year study into bearded tits, and has become one of the world’s leading authorities on them.
John became ever more involved in nature conservation on a wider landscape scale. Under his expert eye, Leighton Moss grew into a diverse reserve which now incorporates a large section of saltmarsh and mudflats in Morecambe Bay, home to thousands of waders and wildfowl, two large satellite areas of freshwater wetland where new reedbed and fen has been created and part of Warton Crag, a limestone grassland site home to rare high brown fritillary butterflies.
John has worked closely with the AONB Partnership. He became one of the first members of the Arnside & Silverdale AONB Landscape Trust, the charity which supports the AONB, when it was formed in 1986 and subsequently became President, a role he still holds and remains active in. He has for many years provided expert advice and guidance on habitat management and monitoring at key sites. He has helped shape the wildlife-rich landscape we see today and we all owe him a great deal.
John has been a mentor to the next generation of conservationists in the area, some of whom are now forging careers locally. This is a valuable legacy ensuring that the AONB is left in good hands.