The Marlborough Downs Nature Enhancement Partnership
Black Sheep Countryside Management is a small but thriving agri-environment consultancy with a broad client base ranging from individual farmers to Natural England, the MOD, and the States of Jersey Environment Department.
Black Sheep Countryside Management
With many decades of experience in farm environment advice, Black Sheep advisers are committed to making farms better places for wildlife, but are aware that this needs to be achieved within the context of a profitable business and a working landscape.
Black Sheep founder and senior consultant Jemma Batten developed the concept of farmer-led conservation at a landscape scale with the Marlborough Downs farmers back in 2012, and she and her Black Sheep colleague Simon Smart were the driving force behind the delivery of many of the activities undertaken as part of the pilot NIA project. Black Sheep continues to support the Partnership by managing the Space for Nature project, with Jemma as Project Director having overall responsibility for ensuring the delivery of biodiversity and landscape objectives as well as the community and outreach programme.
Wiltshire Council is proud to have been invited by the farmers of the Marlborough Downs to become a partner in the Nature Improvement Area. We are pleased to be making our contribution to what is becoming a tremendously successful initiative. The aims and objectives of the Marlborough Downs projects fit closely with many of those of Wiltshire Council, especially the council's commitment to work with our partners to support resilient communities by helping them to achieve their own objectives.
Supporting farmers to manage agriculture, wildlife and public access to the countryside of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, for the benefit and enjoyment of the wider community and involving a wide range of volunteers and professionals through the MDNEP is a new and innovative way of working for Wiltshire Council. It is proving to be a rewarding and inspirational experience. We will do all we can to ensure that the partnership continues to be successful over the coming years and to support the wonderful legacy that it will generate for the future.
A number of Wiltshire Council staff have been actively involved in the delivery of the project, most notably Richard Broadhead, who sat on the Partnership Board from 2012 until his retirement in 2021, and Countryside Officer Ali Rasey who has been involved in the Community and Outreach elements of the project since the beginning.