Enjoy Hampshire's Countryside - have your say
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
The search is on for volunteers to join a forum that provides advice to Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils and other organisations, on improving access to the countryside.
The Hampshire Countryside Access Forum (HCAF) has been operating successfully for ten years and currently has 18 members. It comprises members from a cross-section of interest groups; from landowners, farmers, councillors and rural business owners, to walkers, horse riders, cyclists and motor vehicle users - ensuring that the needs of all groups are taken into account when advice is issued.
It is now looking for more members to represent the interests of landowners, land managers, farmers and motor vehicle users. The Forum is also interested to hear from young people with an interest in access to the countryside as well as anyone with an interest in countryside sports or tourism.
Among its recent success has been funding secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project involving over 100 volunteers researching historical evidence of rights of way which are not yet shown on our legal records, but still meet current needs. Through travelling exhibitions and talks, the wider community was also engaged, and in schools across the county, over 800 children took part in workshops to learn basic skills to help them identify rights of way on modern and historic maps.
The Forum also makes up a panel to assess applications for small grants towards countryside access projects. The Small Grants Scheme was formed in 2006 to provide funding to Parish Councils and landowners to make improvements to rights of way and access land. In 2012 the Scheme provided £50,000 of funding across 23 projects. These projects also attracted match funding resulting in over £100,000 worth of access improvements across the county.
Executive Member for Culture and Recreation, Councillor Keith Chapman, said: "The Hampshire Countryside Access Forum has made a considerable contribution to the work of improving access to Hampshire's countryside, and has proved a very effective way of taking into account the needs of different countryside interests.
"We are particularly keen to hear from landowners, land managers, farmers and motor vehicle users, as these would complement the interests of those members already on the forum."
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Forum, more information and how to apply can be found on the Hampshire Countryside Access Forum website or contact the Countryside Access Team on 01962 847165 or via email on email@example.com