CONSERVATION charities have become the first projects to benefit from donations to the Cotswolds Visitor Giving Scheme.

The scheme was launched last year by the Cotswold Conservation Board to raise funds through voluntary donations from tourists to go towards landscape and environmental projects in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The AONB includes a large part of West Oxfordshire north of Burford, Witney and Woodstock.

The Cotswolds Rivers Trust, which is based in Shipton-under-Wychwood, and the World Land Trust have used the grants for wildlife habitat restoration.

With its £500 grant, the Cotswolds Rivers Trust installed flow deflectors in the River Coln at Winson, near Bibury.

They help to vary the depth in the riverbed, enabling river plants such as water crowfoot to thrive and provide a good habitat for invertebrates and fish.

Another £500 grant was used by the World Land Trust to carry out coppicing work at the Kites Hill nature reserve near Painswick Beacon.

The work will encourage new woodland growth, helping a variety of plants, insects and birds.

Four interpretation boards have also been installed at the reserve.

Chris Grimes, of Burford holiday lettings company Manor Cottages, the first tourism business in the Cotswolds to sign up for the visitor giving scheme, said: “It’s excellent news to hear that funds which have been raised through our customers are already being put to such good use and helping to look after these special places in the Cotswolds AONB.”

Trevor Cramphorn, of the Cotswolds Rivers Trust, said: “This has been an important piece of river habitat restoration work that we haven’t been able to do until now.

“We are hugely grateful to the conservation board for their help and the generosity of businesses which are part of this very worthwhile scheme.”

Owners of tourism businesses who want to find out more about participating in the Cotswolds Visitor Giving Scheme should call Simon Smith at the Cotswolds Conservation Board on 01451 862031 or email simon.smith@