A DALES woman has been made the first ever director of an acclaimed countryside organisation.

Amanda Anderson, 42, of Austwick, has taken the helm of the Moorland Association, which has appointed a director for the first time in its 29-year history.

“I’m delighted to have been given this hugely important role,” said the mother-of-two.

“These are challenging times, not just for our organisation, but the countryside as a whole.”

Mrs Anderson will be looking after the interests of some of earth’s most fragile landscapes – along with the £67million English grouse-shooting industry.

Her goals, she said, included regenerating another 250,000 acres of heather moorland, to boost populations of important birds, plants and animals, to help Britain reach its Biodiversity 2020 targets.

“I fervently believe that careful management of heather moorlands, with grouse shooting as the lynchpin, can produce the best benefits for wildlife, landscape and local economies,” she added.

“This iconic land has safeguarded three quarters of the world’s remaining heather moorland and is a haven for exceptional and endangered species.

“The gains are enormous: water in the taps, vital ecosystems, essential habitats and the protection of remarkable flora and fauna.”

Mrs Anderson has spent the last 14 years looking after the association’s communications through her own company, Anderson PR Ltd, and says she has ‘always been passionate’ about the organisation and its ideals.

With a masters degree in aquaculture, an honours degree in zoology, plus a further degree in post-16 education, she has previousy worked with leading countryside agencies, companies and estates.

She has also been countryside management course manager and lecturer at Lancashire’s Myerscough College. Robert Benson, chairman of the association, said: “Mrs Anderson is eminently qualified with expertise in grouse moor management, food, farming, environment and conservation.

“Her commitment, dedication and pragmatism made her the obvious choice.”

Mrs Anderson, who moved to the area from Clitheroe after ‘falling in love with a house’, will shadow secretary, Martin Gillibrand, until he retires in May.