Simon's Blog: it never fails to surprise me
We have had a couple of new staff starting in the Dedham Vale and Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) team recently. As with any new job there is the ubiquitous induction process to go through. When talking staff through our areas of interest when working in two of England’s finest landscapes it never fails to surprise me the breadth of interest we have.
For example, I have introduced our new Estuaries Officer to an incredible range of people, from professional interests to those that claim to be amateurs, who in reality have a huge depth of knowledge. Beyond the people introductions, the induction has covered the many topics involved in conserving and enhancing these protected landscapes. This has included the protected landscapes wildlife, landscape, relative tranquillity, agriculture and heritage assets.
These are all fine words but what the AONBs are really all about is the experience. I encourage new staff to get out and ‘get their boots dirty’ exploring these fine landscapes. To get in touch with the people and places that make the areas outstanding. AONBs are designated for their Natural Beauty and this is why the staff team is so fortunate to work to conserve and enhance them. I know this is a view shared by many as when we do have an opportunity to take on a new member of staff we get many many applications from highly skilled and knowledgeable people, that makes the selection process so difficult.
The breadth of wildlife, landscape and access interests we pursue was brought home to me recently when we were finalising a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to conserve and enhance the Stour Valley. We spent more time agonising over what we couldn’t put into the application, due to budgetary constraints, than we ever spent on thinking up ideas to include that will improve the areas appeal to wildlife and people.
We are fortunate to have two of England’s finest landscapes here in Essex and Suffolk. I encourage you to get out there and enjoy what they have to offer.
First published in the East Anglian Daily Times February 2017