£17m fund will protect landscape

More than £17m has been earmarked to help preserve landscapes across Britain, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced yesterday.

The funding has been set aside for 10 different countryside areas to help them conserve their distinctive character, protecting grasslands, sand dunes, moorlands, wetlands and wildlife. The work will involve local communities in schemes such as surveying species and archaeological digs, and teach people traditional skills including dry stone-walling, beekeeping and hedge-laying.

The Belfast hills, the wetlands of the Avalon Marshes to the west of Glastonbury and landscapes shaped by medieval monks and Anglo-Saxon farming are among the rural areas to benefit from the money. The Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which inspired C S Lewis' vision of Narnia, and Dame Vera Lynn's favourite chalk cliffs of the Dover coastline are also set to receive funding.

Between £1m and £2m has been earmarked for each of the schemes, which must now submit a further, fully-developed application to secure the award.