Chalkscapes is an exciting new partnership project designed to inspire people to understand and care for the North Chilterns’ chalk landscape.

The project will deliver landscape-scale conservation and community engagement, giving urgent support to the wildlife, heritage and communities which face unprecedented and relentless levels of housing, infrastructure growth and environmental pressures.

A new Chalkscapes Partnership (see below)  is now developing detailed plans for this five-year project thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other partners.

The development phase will run from January 2021 until November 2022, culminating in a funding proposal to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

If our funding proposal is successful, the Chalkscapes project is expected to run from summer 2023 until 2028.

Please download our project summary document.

Our ambitions for  Chalkscapes:

  • inspire communities in and around Luton and Dunstable to learn about, explore and love their local landscapes – strengthening communities through a sense of place
  • involve many more people, from diverse communities, in caring for local heritage – contributing to a sense of wellbeing and belonging through experience of natural and cultural heritage
  • forge strengthened partnerships across community and conservation interests, delivering mutual benefits for both
  • create more wildlife-rich, resilient chalk landscapes and habitats, securing enthusiasm and commitment from land managers to collaborate on landscape scale conservation strategies over the long term
  • develop, test and share learning and best practice from innovative approaches to chalk landscape management.

The Chalkscapes Projects

Wild Chalk

Wild Chalk  is an ambitious landscape scale conservation and engagement project at the core of Chalkscape's  delivery for wildlife and landscape.

Tales of the Chalk

Tales of the Chalk  will be the arts project which brings stories of the land to life.

Chalkscapes Champions

Chalkscapes Champions  is the volunteering component of Chalkscapes, which will put people at the heart of the Chilterns landscape.

Routeways and Waysides

A project focusing on identifying, promoting and enhancing historic routeways, ecological corridors and key recreational routes linking the urban areas to the wider countryside in the Chalkscapes project area.

Community Chalk

Community Chalk is the community outreach project which will help connect urban audiences to the Chalkscapes project.

What happens now?

Between January 2021 and November 2022, the Development Team will be working with partners to develop [five interconnected projects] which will deliver our aims and ambitions for the Chalkscapes project.

Work we’ll be doing during the development stage of Chalkscapes includes:

>>Running community pilots

We’re running a suite of pilot activities with community organisations in the Luton and Dunstable areas to understand and test the best way to bring urban communities and conservation organisations together.

Read more about the Community Chalk outreach project within Chalkscapes.

>>Carrying out research to better understand and serve our under-served audiences 

Heritage has a crucial role to play in contributing to a flourishing, more equitable society in the UK. We want Chalkscapes to be designed with community engagement at its heart, making sure everyone is able participate in heritage, regardless of their background or circumstances.

The Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire is helping us to develop inclusive community engagement throughout the project, to make sure Chalkscapes creates positive  and lasting change for both landscape and people.

The Chalkscapes Partnership

Formed in 2018, the Chalkscapes Partnership is a wide range of organisations who have committed to work together on behalf of the North Chilterns landscape.

The Chalkscapes Partnership is led by the Chalkscapes Advisory Group, which has representatives from the organisations below.

As we develop the Chalkscapes project, we are exploring working with a range of community and other organisations in Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Hertfordshire, including:

We are keen to work with a wide range of organisations to help us develop our plans for  Chalkscapes. Please contact us if you would like to be involved.

Why is Chalkscapes needed now? 

The landscape of the North Chilterns has never faced greater challenges.  Wildlife and heritage is under threat from relentless development and infrastructure growth, whilst the rapidly expanding nearby urban areas contain communities which are increasingly transient and disengaged from the landscape and heritage on their doorstep.

People are increasingly disconnected to nature, yet our country needs green spaces and the powerful benefits of nature now, more than ever. An increasing awareness of climate change brings the opportunity to show people why it matters – and challenges are both global and local.

Easily accessible by train from London, the Chilterns is an irreplaceable green lung serving South East England, its landscape encircling urban areas with some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country.  And yet studies have shown a clear disconnect between urban communities and the landscape on their doorstep.  This connection must be restored, not only for the benefit of the landscape, but for the 1.6 million people who live and work within 8km of its boundary.

We know there is a both need and opportunity to inspire and engage more diverse groups of people in appreciating, understanding and caring for our natural heritage.

For many residents of Luton, Dunstable and other urban areas, where demographic change has been rapid, the countryside of the North Chilterns may have little relevance.   Luton has a population of 214,700, with over 50% of the population identifying as BAME.  There is a growing ethnic diversity; black and Asian populations continue to increase, and there are high levels of transient communities.

“What is not valued and loved is at risk of being neglected, and lost. ” 

The strength of Chalkscapes lies in its aspiration to link divergent organisations and provide the opportunity for them to work collaboratively to achieve a greater impact for landscape, heritage and people. For too long, conservation organisations have struggled to raise the profile of their causes and the increasing focus on climate change and environmental issues in mainstream conversation now provides an opportunity to reach out to a wider audience.

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