Communities in and around the Rusland Valley, in the south of the Lake District National Park, are set to benefit from improvements to the local wooded landscape over the next three years, thanks to a £1.3m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant.
From February partners will begin recruiting project staff, followed by a public launch in June. The Rusland Horizons – Working a Lakeland Landscape scheme will bring together local people, agencies and visitors to help improve the wooded landscape, revive traditional skills and learn about, enhance and enjoy the heritage, habitats and wildlife of the Rusland Valley.
The Lake District National Park will be the lead partner for the scheme, however it was members of the local community who provided the ideas for the projects which will be taken forward over three years.
To enable people to experience, learn about and become involved in a range of heritage skills to manage the landscape and to inspire renewed interest in sustainable woodland produce from local firewood to swill baskets. Apprenticeships and training courses will be offered.
To restore the unique, wooded landscape of the Rusland Valley and fells and to involve people in enhancing biodiversity by managing habitats and monitoring special species. It will reinstate sustainable coppicing programmes, collate habitat data, involve volunteers, apprentices and local schoolchildren in habitat restoration and surveys. It will also establish a community woodland where local residents, young people and community groups can get involved in woodland management and wildlife conservation.
To improve our understanding of the historic interaction between people and the landscape enable people to learn about and become involved in conserving our heritage before it disappears. We will: work with volunteers to uncover new information about the history and landscape development of the area; support volunteers and local residents to document the old minor place-names and field-names; record oral history relating to landscape and land use, and how things have changed over time.
To provide better, sustainable access and opportunities to explore our natural and cultural heritage, and to inspire a sense of identity, ownership and pride in the special, intimate and quiet qualities of the area. We will work with apprentices and volunteers to improve the rights of way network to create a series of pedestrian and cycle trails linked to sustainable transport routes. We will also engage a wide range of local people and visitors in learning about the natural and cultural heritage of the area through a programme of inspiring events and activities.
Colin Barr, chairman of the Rusland Valley and Fells Heritage Partnership, said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this substantial grant. It will give us the opportunity to revitalise many of the traditional woodland industries in the scheme area, as well as providing wonderful opportunities for training and enjoyable learning. It’s great to know that the HLF share our enthusiasm for this very special place.”
Sara Hilton, Head of HLF North West, said: “The Rusland Valley is more than just beautiful scenery. It is full of ancient woodland that has played a vital role in industry for generations. Thanks to National Lottery players, this project will bring the woodland back into the heart of the local community, creating traineeships and boosting wildlife. Over the last decade we’ve invested £146m in 86 landscapes, helping communities to look after some of the UK’s most precious natural areas. Rusland Horizons will be a great example of the difference our funding can make in practice.”
Further information on the Rusland Horizons scheme can be found at: www.ruslandhorizons.org