The living Landscape concept was the result of Natural England (publication) and the Wildlife Trusts (2010 publication) realising that protecting small important habitats as nature reserves did not work if the land that separates them becomes increasingly unfriendly to wildlife. The answer was to work at the landscape level. This could involve the “big money” approach: buying large tracts of land to be rescued from intensive agriculture. The conversion of fenland farms to be part of the “Great Fen” (Great Fen web page) is one example.
Saffron Walden's Living Landscape is an example of the other approach: identify and publicise potential “Living Landscapes”, not seeking to change land ownership much, if at all, but getting local authorities and voluntary bodies to encourage land owners to manage some of their land in more wildlife friendly ways and to welcome visitors to their land – perhaps as potential purchasers of their produce.
Where is the Saffron Walden Living Landscape?
It is a 20 sq km rural area to the east and north of Saffron Walden, extending into large parts of Ashdon and Sewards End. Visit the living landscape map showing the boundary and woodlands and a public rights of way map.
Why is it so important to Saffron Walden?
Most of the rural area that surrounds Saffron Walden is closed to public access (notably the Audley End and Shortgrove Estates). There are few public rights of way and no open access woods or other land. The Saffron Walden's Living Landscape has a good network of footpaths, bridleways and green lanes and a few open access woods. It is by far the best area for Saffron Walden residents to enjoy the countryside on foot without the need to drive somewhere first.
From the wildlife conservation point of view it is very rich: three nature reserves, three sites of special scientific interest, 17 local wildlife sites.
It is also, potentially, an agricultural area that could supply food and fuel to local people: thus improving link between urban residents and the agricultural community.