Conservation Fund Projects

The Conservation Fund is made up with donations from Friends of Shropshire Hills AONB subscriptions, the Millichope Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Martin Wills Wildlife Maintenance Trust and individual contributions.

Grants have been awarded by the Shropshire Hills AONB Trust in Spring 2021 to the following projects: 

Pollinator garden at Lower Bush Farm

The farm is a not-for-profit care farm which welcomes adults with learning disabilities, teenagers with mental health difficulties and children and young people with a variety of special educational needs and disabilities. The aim of the project is to plant a pollinator garden on the farm.  The research and planting will be done by the young people as part of their Countryside Management unit to learn about pollinators, healthy habitats and how to increase numbers at the farm and at home. 

Lower Bush Farm CIC – grant £2,000

Branching Out

This project will deliver affordable outdoor education and awareness-raising activities that relate to the Shropshire Hills, and its conservation, in the high priority area of a native woodland. The sessions will combine Forest School education with local nature knowledge, professional knowledge, and with a flare of seasonal relevance. The project aims to be as inclusive as possible by welcoming children (aged between 6-11 years old) of all walks of life into the woodland through being affordable to the majority, and offering two free places for households with a lower-income.

Toni Pettitt– grant £1,780  Project Report

Norbury Hill ecological survey & bracken control

Norbury Hill is an important conservation ‘stepping stone’ between the Long Mynd and Stiperstones. Working with the neighbouring farm, MMCLT have commissioned a baseline ecological survey and report to be written for Norbury Hill (250 acres) to guide medium/ long term conservation management.  The hill supports breeding skylark, meadow pipits and is a feeding ground for kestrel, curlew and snipe.  The grant will also support MMCLT to work with volunteers to carry out bracken control using had tools, on their 47-acre holding.

Middle Marches Community Land Trust (MMCLT) - grant £1,500

Project Report & Ecological Survey

Hopton Castle Verges & Tree Planting

Hopton Castle is open to the public. The grant will enable the local community to replant trees in the grounds of the castle which have been lost in recent storms. Wildflowers will also be planted on the approaches to the castle and the motte.  The planting will enhance the biodiversity of the area and provide an attractive space to enjoy and picnic in for visitor to the castle and local residents.

Hopton Castle Preservation Trust – grant £816.89

Save our Curlew

This is a joint project with the Stretton Community Wildlife Group.  The project aims to improve Curlew breeding success in the Stretton area, through action on the ground: finding nests and putting electric fences round them to protect the eggs from predation and agricultural activities, fitting radio tags to hatched chicks to track them to find out how they use the landscape, and what happens to them.  Volunteers from the community wildlife group will help with sightings and surveys.  Understanding the reasons for low levels of chick survival is the key to an effective local and national conservation plan.

Shropshire Ornithological Society - grant £1,000

Sustainable Charcoal Making

This project will enable members of the Knighton Community Woodland Group to make charcoal using the small timber and brash coppiced from their woodlands, and to share this knowledge with others.  The grant will fund the purchase of a charcoal retort and equipment needed to make and sell sustainably produced charcoal.  This will generate a regular income for the group and reduce the reliance on grants.  Two one-day training courses will be held to demonstrate charcoal making using a retort to other interested community groups in the Shropshire Hills.

Knighton Community Woodland Group – grant £1,293.75

Project Report

Bushmoor Verges Project

This project is bringing together the residents of Bushmoor hamlet to restore their local roadside verges to encourage wildflowers and create wildlife corridors. The project will involve an ecological survey, ground works and planting/seeding as recommended by the report. Volunteers will be able to get involved in the survey and in planting/seeding the verge.  Photographs will be taken to record the verge progress. Community awareness is at the heart of this project with a drop-in day planned at the village hall and opportunities to involve children from the local primary school.

Bushmoor Verges Group – grant £627

Experiencing Biodiversity

This project introduces secondary school pupils at Bishop’s Castle Community College to biodiversity and its value in local woodlands, wild places and the local environment.  The students will carry out practical activities as part of the school’s fortnightly enrichment sessions and learn how good land management can increase biodiversity.  Activities will include ‘wilding’ the green areas around the college, raising trees in pots for planting out, and planting a sensory garden.  The young people be encouraged to link with out of school conservation groups such as Young Rangers. 

Lightfoot Enterprises - grant £2,000


The following projects are also underway this year, with support from the AONB Conservation Fund.  They were awarded a grant in 2020, but not all of the projects were able to complete due to the Covid restrictions in place. 

Restoring Roadside verges

Restoring the roadside verges in Edgton started a couple of years ago, supported by the Conservation Fund.  This grant has been awarded to buy wildflower plugs and seeds to improve damaged verges and to extend verge restoration around the village.  The project will also re-survey the verges previously mapped to record changes.  Himalayan Balsam will be removed from verges and a plan to manage this invasive plant will be explored, if necessary.  Discussions with Shropshire Council Highway Department continue regarding verge management and cutting regime to enhance the verges for wildlife.

Edgton Village Meeting – grant £1,000

The aim is to preserve and enhance the roadside verges and hedgerows in the village to provide valuable habitat for plants, insects and small mammals.  The village ‘Wildflower Verges Group’ has bought together range of people who previously didn’t know each other, and it is hoped that wildflower rich verges will give villagers a sense of wellbeing.  The grant will support a professional survey of all the village verges and hedgerows to draw up a plan for future work.  These surveys will also be a training opportunity for volunteers.  Cutting, raking, scarifying and seeding the verges will also be undertaken by volunteers.  Photographs of the verges and hedgerows will also be taken as a record to refer to in the future.

Little Stretton Village Society – grant £795.50

Grassland for Curlew

This project is trialling different grassland management techniques to improve suitability for breeding curlew.  Working with volunteer farming partners in the Shropshire Hills, the project will trial and cost alternative and novel mowing regimes to vary the height of grass. The aim is to provide a better food source for the curlew chicks and greater protection from some predators.  The results will be used to inform future management and include costs per acre per operation. 

Curlew Country - grant £2,000

Exploring Wild Wood

This project introduces secondary school pupils at Bishop’s Castle Community College to the diversity of woodlands, demonstrating how they can be managed for enjoyment, biodiversity and for wood fuel production.  The students visit different woodland sites in the AONB to carry out practical activities including tree planting, building shelters, woodland management (cutting and logging), a fungi foray and exploring woodland wildlife.  The young people work in teams, working respectfully and safely together.  The project will also be sharing its knowledge and activities with a group of teachers who have set up Marches Climate Education Group at a workshop being held in Hereford.

Lightfoot Enterprises - grant £1,900

Craven Arms Young Rangers

20 young people, aged 10-18, will help to develop a management/ activity plan for a local woodland site.  They will identify what is in the woodland, what is the potential to improve habitat and what practical work needs doing to make a training base for future Young Ranger activity.  The six woodland activities days will involve tree and plant identification, mapping species and places of interest, clearing and creating space for a base and better access. 

South Shropshire Youth Forum - grant £1,684

Save our Curlew

This is a joint partnership project with the Upper Clun and Clee Hill Community Wildlife Groups.  The project aims to improve Curlew breeding success in the Upper Clun and Clee hills area, through action on the ground: finding nests and putting electric fences round them to protect the eggs from predation and agricultural activities, then fitting radio tags to chicks as soon as they hatch, and track them to find out how they use the landscape, and what happens to them.  70+ volunteers from the two community wildlife groups will help with sightings and surveys.  Understanding the reasons for low levels of chick survival is the key to an effective local and national conservation plan.

Shropshire Ornithological Society - grant £2,000

Harvesting Meadow Plant Seed for Sward Enhancement

Marches Meadow Group - grant £2,000  Final Project Report

The grant is supporting the purchase of a seed harvester to collect meadow plant seed from local species-rich meadows.  The seed will be used on suitable areas of currently species-poor grasslands, including Marches Meadow Group members’ fields, lawns, road verges, public open spaces, school grounds and churchyards in and around the Shropshire Hills.  The aims are to increase the number and area of species-rich grasslands and increase the opportunities for meadow plants and animals to move between existing meadows.  Volunteers will be able to help with site preparation, seed sowing and subsequent management of the sites.

Mammal & Bat Recording

Abdon District Community Wildlife Group - grant £300

A small grant was awarded to enable the Community Wildlife Group (CWG) to purchase a bat detector and identification guides.  With help from Shropshire Bat Group and Mammal Group, the CWG plan to record the bat and mammal species in their area.  Other local CWGs will be welcome to borrow the detector.


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2019-20 Projects

Grants were awarded to 11 projects in 2019-20. Scroll down for project summaries and reports.  

Brynmawr Farm Summer Club

This is a new one-day-a-week club for young people (aged 11-14) through the summer holidays at Brynmawr Organic Farm.  Weekly topics will look at different elements of the natural environment and practical conservation work.  Hands-on activities will aim to promote an active lifestyle and increasing self-confidence, self-belief and self-responsibility.  A Pettitt – grant £1,490  Project Report

Sowing the Seed of God’s Acre

This project is surveying 10 burial grounds in the AONB, where little or nothing is known about the flora and fauna.  Grassland management sessions and a meadow management training day will support volunteers and share best practice.  Yellow Rattle seed from meadows in the AONB will be collected and sown into the long grass area of churchyards.  Yellow Rattle suppresses grass growth, making the management of these sites more sustainable in the long term. Caring for God’s Acre - grant £1,500  Project Report

Hills Stories 2019

This project is helping young people to explore and engage with Shropshire Hills landscape, its wildlife and heritage.  Working with youth leaders, creative digital media practitioners, and other artists, the participants will use digital technology (eg iPods / iPads / digital cameras) to reflect on their experiences and create their own physical and digital media responses to share online.  An exhibition will be held to showcase their workNick Fogg & Mike Smart – grant £1,500  Project Report

Shropshire Favourite Bird Sites (booklet)

This new booklet will highlight 20 wildlife sites in Shropshire which are good for bird-watching (8 are in the AONB).  It is aimed at beginners.  The grant is helping with printing costs.  It will be launched in September at the RSPB South Shropshire group 50th anniversary event.  All monies raised goes towards helping migrating birds.  RSPB South Shropshire Group - grant £500  Project Report

The Shropshire Barytes Industry

The barytes industry in the Shropshire Hills was of national importance and a substantial employer during the first half of the twentieth century.  This project is undertaking practical work at two sites; Cothercott and the Bog Mine, to enable volunteers to continue their survey of the sites and help to reveal more of our barytes heritage.  Shropshire Caving and Mining Club - grant £1,000  Project Report photographs


This project will deliver six sessions for 10 young people aged 13-16 who have been referred onto the programme by Church Stretton Secondary School.  The young people play an active part in the development of the sessions to help them appreciated their local landscape. South Shropshire Youth Forum – grant £1,500  Project Report

Upper Onny Balsam Bashing

The eradication of Himalayan balsam continues in the Upper Onny catchment.  This year’s focus is the West Onny, along Criftin Brook and at the Bog.  These stretches of river will be surveyed and the balsam cleared by volunteer work parties.  The project also aims to increase awareness of the issues of habitat loss and encourage the community and landowners to help reverse the spread of invasive species in this part of the AONB. Upper Onny Wildlife Group - grant £1,500  Project Report

People & Plants 

The project is delivering 8 training sessions (walks, surveys and workshops) in the Shropshire Hills for people interested in plants.  The sessions will teach people how to identify and record veteran trees, fungi, ferns and mosses as well as flowering plants, and aims encourage new people to get involved in active conservation. Upper Onny Wildlife Group - grant £500  Project Report

Whinchat Conservation on the Long Mynd

This is a Pilot Project to test and evaluate proposals for a Whinchat conservation project on the Long Mynd.  Whinchats are wholly restricted to bracken habitats.  The project will find a sample of whinchat nests, monitor them with trail cameras, colour-ring the chicks and catch as many of the breeding adults as possible. National Trust - grant £2,500  Project Report  photographs

The Halfway House on the Wrekin

The grant will help to create a flower rich garden at the Halfway House café that’s attractive to visitors and to a range of pollinating insects.  A series of six events will be held to increase visitor awareness of the uniqueness of the Wrekin, its natural heritage, the woodland, and the special wildlife it supports giving priority to the birds in the area, pollinating insects and the plants that they use.  J. Joy - grant £1,283  Project Report

Youth in Woods

This project introduces secondary school pupils at Bishop’s Castle Community College to the richness and diversity of woodlands, and demonstrates how they can be managed for enjoyment, biodiversity and for wood fuel production.  Students will carry out practical activities including building shelters, woodland management (cutting and logging), making things from objects found in the woodland, and exploring the woodland diversity.  Lightfoot – grant £1,500.  Project Report