Rusland Horizons was one of the first community-led landscape partnership schemes to be supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The scheme covered a rural and densely wooded area between Lake Windermere and Coniston Water in the southern region of the Lake District National Park.
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.
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.