THE new area AONB manager at Chichester Harbour Conservancy has spoken of his excitement at joining a ‘special place’.
Richard Austin has returned to the place he used to visit as a child to help lead it into its 50th year.
He officially started his new position on October 14 and replaced Alison Fowler, who has moved on to the Hampshire Wildlife Trust.
Dr Austin said: “Chichester Harbour AONB is a special place.
“It is a valuable resource for south-east England, rich in its distinctive qualities, making this environment of national and international importance.
“It is an exciting time to be joining Chichester Harbour Conservancy.
“Next year we will publish our five-year management plan for the future, which will enable all our partners to help us to look after this protected area.
“Meanwhile, we will also be celebrating 2014 as our 50th anniversary of being an AONB.”
The harbour conservancy said it was ‘delighted’ to announce Dr Austin’s appointment, adding that he brought with him ‘a wealth of knowledge and experience in protected area management’.
Pieter Montyn, conservancy chairman, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming Richard at an exciting and challenging time for environmental issues in the harbour.
“We have a demanding programme ahead of us and Richard’s appointment will bring new ideas and opportunities.”
Dr Austin visited the harbour throughout his childhood, when he grew up in Hampshire.
After leaving Hampshire, his career took him all over the country, dealing with environmental management.
His last post was at Northumberland National Park, where he spent more than seven years working in conservation.
During this time he supervised more than 250 sustainable development fund initiatives and worked closely with the Heritage Lottery Fund on the proposed development of a new visitor centre on Hadrian’s Wall.
Outside work, he completed his doctorate on rural partnership working at Newcastle University.
The AONB manager’s role involves being responsible for the day-to-day management of the AONB and developing a number of projects that benefit nature conservation, landscape, local people and improved access for all.