Nature forum says Stour Valley must be safeguarded to cope with rising populations

Dedham Vale Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley Forum 2017 at Shrubs Farm in Lamarsh.
Dedham Vale Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley Forum 2017 at Shrubs Farm in Lamarsh.

An annual nature forum held near Sudbury has concluded that communities must be ready to help the Stour Valley and its landscapes cope with the rise in residential development.

Key people gathered at the recent 2017 Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley Forum at Shrubs Farm in Lamarsh to gauge the pressures currently affecting people and wildlife in the Stour Valley, and what can be done to safeguard it for future generations.

Cllr Nigel Chapman, chairman of the forum’s joint advisory committee, said: “We must recognise that the population of the area will continue to increase dramatically, and some of those people will want to enjoy, exercise and relax in the AONB and the wider valley.

“We must be ready to welcome and to cope with them.”

The forum hosted Lord Gardiner of Kimble, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, who said the Government was committed to a 25-year plan to protect the environment, and explained preserving the landscape was key to health, tourism, food production and employment.

“The British countryside is our most precious natural asset,” said Lord Gardiner. “The success of our stewardship will be judged by those who succeed us.

“We need to ensure that the next generation have opportunities in the environment and management sector.”

Professor Jules Pretty, deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Essex, was also in attendance to outline his research, indicating that even a five-minute dose of nature was good for people’s wellbeing, and suggested successful developments would require collaboration.

“Immersive attention is the key concept,” he said. “Being outside is the best health service for the nation.

“What’s good for our physical wellbeing is also good for our finances.

“A very successful development in Suffolk has been the formation of partnerships between local tourism businesses and councils, resulting in some excellent tourism initiatives on the ground.”