Woodland Heritage will be celebrated through a new three year project, launched at Towneley Hall, Burnley

Posted: 11.10.16

An exciting project to survey, celebrate and promote the South Pennines’ woodlands was launched at Towneley Hall, Burnley. Hundreds of people attended the fun-packed day with entertainment, activities and displays for all the family.

It also proved an excellent starting point for the Heritage Lottery funded three-year Celebrating Our Woodland Heritage Project, as Chris Atkinson, recently appointed South Pennines Woodland Heritage Officer, explained: “The Woodland Heritage Day was a great opportunity to meet lots of new people and to tell them about this great new project. We had a lot interest from families and individuals, recruiting a number of volunteers on the day, which was a great start.”

“Over the next three years we are hoping to get a wide range of people involved and I’m interested in hearing from local groups and organisations in the area, everyone from local history groups to young archaeologists. There’s so many different ways to get involved. For example, cubs and scouts can use this project to work towards their heritage badge,” explained Chris, who has worked on similar projects in Herefordshire prior to moving to Yorkshire.

“With our volunteers we’ll be carrying out archaeological surveys in ancient woodlands. There’ll be on the job training looking at past woodland use and any evidence of pre-woodland use, such as quarries, settlements and field markers. Even in the smaller woodlands, which predominate in this area, there’s still evidence to be found.

“We’re hoping that by surveying the woodlands people will gain a greater understanding of their importance and they’ll have a greater respect for them. This is vital if we are to protect them for future generations,” added Chris.

Woodland is scarce in the South Pennines with a mere four per cent coverage. Nevertheless it is rich in heritage, linking the present with the area’s industrial past and more. Despite this it is poorly documented; an issue the project is designed to remedy. The Celebrating Our Woodland Heritage Project is funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund (£400,000), with contributions from the Newground Together Trust (£60,000), the Green Bank Trust (£16,500) and Yorkshire Water (£20,000), and managed by Pennine Prospects, the South Pennines rural regeneration company.

Peter Jordan, Communities Director at the Newground Together, explained the Trust’s connection with the project. “As one of the largest environmental regeneration charities in the North West we are dedicated to delivering programmes that improve the local environment and the lives of the people who live and work here.

“Our Forest School Practitioners have been working in these areas for a number of years and have found that young people respond very well to an alternative method of learning. There’s something very special about sitting around a campfire and it’s great fun being in the woods. By introducing people to their local woodlands we’ve found they often develop a greater understanding and respect for them and don’t inadvertently damage them through ignorance.”

Peter continued: “As one of the funders of this three year project our focus is on community engagement and education. The project covers a wide geographical area; there are many themes and the partners have many different skills; it’s an exciting and dynamic project in which to be involved.”

In addition to surveying the woodlands the project will also use new techniques and skills to tell the story of the South Pennines’ woodlands. For example, the project will be working with Forest Schools and training a new generation of woodland heritage champions. And the project will involve working closely with the University of Bradford’s School of Archaeological Sciences. As a researcher based at the university, Hywel Lewis, will be looking at the interaction between human industry and woodland ecology in the South Pennines.

There will be a Day School on Saturday, October 15 at the Birchcliffe Centre, Hebden Bridge. Organised by Pennine Prospects, South Pennines History Group and Pennine Heritage the day school will feature a number of key speakers, hands-on demonstrations and site visits.

For more information about the project please visit www.celebrate-our-woodland.co.uk or contact Chris on 07582 101 691 or at chris.atkinson@pennineprospects.co.uk

Yorkshire Water United Utilities Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council National Farmers Union
South Pennines Association Lancashire County Council Pennine Heritage Kirklees Council Calderdale Council
Bradford District Council Northern Rail Natural England Environment Agency The National Trust