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PRINCE PAYS TRIBUTE TO TENACITY OF HIS TENANTS

 ROBERT JOBSON

09:00 - 11 December 2002
 
  
 
Prince Charles, one of the largest and most influential landowners in
the Westcountry, has praised the courage and tenacity of farmers who
continue to battle on through adversity.

As another difficult year for many rural communities closes, the prince
highlights the positives in his annual Duchy of Cornwall review.

He has renewed his appeal to everyone who cares about the quality of
rural life "to work together to find a new way forward".

The Duchy review covers the activities of an estate created 665 years
ago by King Edward III for his son Edward, later known as the Black
Prince, who was the first Duke of Cornwall.

Prince Charles' land portfolio consists of 140,000 acres spread around
25 counties.

The bulk of his Duchy estate, which since the 14th century has provided
an income for the heir to the throne, lies in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset,
Dorset, Wiltshire and the Isles of Scilly.

The Prince said: "The past few years have tested rural communities
almost to the limit.

"Duchy tenants have been no exception.

"Last year's foot and mouth crisis hit hard, following an unprecedented
period of declining commodity prices and food safety scares.

"Eight Duchy farmers lost stock and most had to cope with the
uncertainty and loss of income caused by movement restrictions and a
decline in tourism.

"It has been a desperately difficult and uncertain time for many people.

"I have been struck by the remarkable fortitude and courage that tenants
have shown in the face of such tragedy.

"The Duchy will continue to try to support tenants through these
challenging times, helping people to move towards their own solution.

"We must look beyond repairing the damage.

"If we are to hand on a viable, living countryside to our children and
grandchildren, it is time for all of us who care about the quality of
rural life to work together to find a new way forward."

Eighteen months ago the Prince launched his Rural Action initiative as
President of 'Business in the Community.'

This initiative, which aims to build on successful precedents achieved
in Britain's inner cities, challenges businesses to use their skills and
resources to help tackle some of the difficulties facing rural
communities.

Rural Action focuses on attempting to regenerate market towns; new
enterprises in rural areas; affordable new housing; and providing rural
services.

He believes that many farmers and businesses in rural communities are
rising to the challenge of competing in a different market place.

The Prince said that on his visit to the Royal Cornwall Show at
Wadebridge in June he was impressed by the determination of those
involved to focus on quality and service, which were so important to the
consumer. He also referred to the 10th anniversary celebration of the
Taste of the West food and drink marketing group at the Two Bridges
Hotel on Dartmoor.

The Prince said: "As well as demonstrating the benefits of regional
branding, the event also highlighted the close link between the farmer,
the environment, and the consumer.

"This is something I have tried to do with my own organic food brand,
Duchy Originals, which is also celebrating its 10th anniversary this
year.

"Whether in food production, rural crafts or other goods and services,
marketing is about meeting the needs of the customer.

"Much has already been done to recognise the importance of quality
products and niche markets, such as organic products or farmers'
markets. But there is still a long way to go."

Prince Charles has commended the work done by the Commission on Food and
Farming in helping to identify the value of good brands, local sourcing
and traceability. He held a seminar earlier this year at Highgrove, his
home in Gloucestershire, for a cross-section of tenants from all parts
of the Duchy.

The Prince said: "The range of skills and ingenuity demonstrated in
widening sources of income was outstanding.

"Diversification can take many different forms but the opportunity to
share ideas and work together in partnership happens all too seldom in
rural communities."

The Prince pledged: "The Duchy will continue to follow up the ideas and
benefits that come out of this seminar."

On the issue of development, the Prince said he was very pleased at the
emerging success and impact of Poundbury, a social community being
created on Duchy land in Dorset.

He said: "Where land has been identified for development, my commitment
is to show how buildings can enhance the environment and that
sustainable development can create places where people can be proud of
their community."

The Prince concluded his message by stating: "I will never cease to
enjoy the many different and familiar landscapes of the Duchy and
meeting the people who live and work there.

"Across all of our estates and in all our business operations I will
continue to try to ensure that the Duchy makes a real and lasting
contribution to the communities in which we live and work.

Diversity is perhaps the Duchy's greatest strength.

"Its continuation is one of the most important things we can hand to the
next generation."

The Prince's words have been echoed by Duchy of Cornwall secretary
Bertie Ross.

Mr Ross said: "The resilience and fortitude shown by tenants over the
past three years never cease to impress, but this is no more than I have
come to expect from people with such committed and deep roots. Our goal,
as the Duchy staff, is to set the highest standards that we can
achieve."

WMN Opinion - Page 10
 


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DEVON PROJECT: GUARDIANS OF MOORLAND WILDERNESS

09:00 - 11 December 2002

The Duchy's largest single land holding is the Dartmoor Estate. At 70,000 acres, it occupies around one third of the whole Dartmoor National Park and includes most of the high moor.

The Duchy works closely with the Dartmoor National Park Authority on rural matters in the South West. Initiatives have included bracken control programmes, heather regeneration research, species projects and the conservation of historic sites. The Action for Wildlife initiative at Dartmoor aims to look after special sites of scientific and conservation interests.

Another initiative is the Dartmoor Pony Moorland Scheme, which aims to improve the breed of Dartmoor ponies and enable them to stand up to the harsh winters without needing extra food. A breeding programme aimed to improve the quality and type of Dartmoor ponies has resulted in over 350 colts and fillies being born and registered to date.

The programme was launched 14 years ago when , in the summer of 1988, 17 hardy Dartmoor mares from seven owners and a pedigree Dartmoor stallion supplied by a Duchy tenant were put into one moorland enclosure. Visitors were able to view the enclosure and gain information about the ponies, and more and more owners have wanted to take part. Guided walks are now offered by the DNPA during July and August. Partnerships with the National Trust and English Nature have enabled young ponies to spend the winter on less exposed coastal sites. This year, 12 mares have been sent to Rame Head in Cornwall, for example. In turn, their grazing helps conservation by encouraging the return of wildflowers and plants on remote headlands.