Rusland Horizons is one of the first community-led landscape partnership schemes to be supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The scheme covers a rural and densely wooded area between Lake Windermere and Coniston Water in the southern region of the Lake District National Park. See map.
Coppiced over many centuries, the woodlands once supported hundreds of jobs and fuelled a large part of the local economy. This in turn has created a rich industrial archaeology and many historic features that tell the tales of past working lives.
The area is widely recognised for its natural heritage value. The coppices are a haven for many threatened plant, butterfly, moth, bird and small mammal species. This is the landscape that inspired cultural figures like John Ruskin and Arthur Ransome, providing opportunities for quiet contemplation and outdoor recreation, and nourishing the strong, local communities living in the scattered settlements.
These special qualities, however, are under threat. Much of this woodland is now under-managed; important habitats are being fragmented, traditional skills forgotten, and historic landscape features lost.
Between 2016 – 2019 the Partnership are carrying out a range of projects that involve local communities in recording, restoring, managing and celebrating the heritage, wildlife and wooded landscape of the area.
The projects are organised around four inter-dependent programmes of work that will achieve the following aims:
Enable people to experience, learn about and become involved in a broad and varied range of heritage skills to manage the landscape and its features and to inspire renewed interest in sustainable woodland produce, from local firewood to swill baskets.
Work in partnership to restore the unique, wooded landscape of the Rusland Valley and Fells and to involve people in enhancing biodiversity by creating habitat stepping stones and monitoring priority species.
The Scheme is led by the Rusland Valley & Fells Landscape Partnership, made up of community representatives supported by Cumbria Woodlands, Natural England, Forestry Commission and Lake District National Park Authority.
A wider partnership of organisations, including Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Westmorland Red Squirrel Society, Butterfly Conservation, Bill Hogarth Memorial Apprenticeship Trust and the University of Lancaster, are leading on projects involved in the scheme.
How is it Funded?
The total cost of the scheme is £1.7m. The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided £1.4m though it’s Landscape Partnership programme. Other funding has been provided by the Lake District National Park Authority, Natural England, Crofton Trust Fund, First Transpennine Express & Forestry Commission Green Grant, Woodland Improvement Grants and donations from local parish councils, individuals and the Rusland Valley Community Trust. The Partnership is seeking a further £70,000 in match funding.