A three-year Woodland Heritage project has been launched at Towneley Hall, with over half a million pounds pledged to revitalise woodland in the South Pennines.
Hundreds attended the event of the launch of the ‘Celebrating Our Year’, as the three-year endeavor was kickstarted to raptuous fanfare as ecological authorities seek to address the fact that woodland in the South Pennines, despite covering a vast expanse of the North West, constitutes just 4% of the area.
The project will echo the North West’s rich heritage and strong industrial past, and will be managed by Pennine Prospects with £400,000 being contributed by the Haritage Lottery Fund, £60,000 from the Newground Together Trust, £20,000 from Yorkshire Water, and £16,500 from the Green Bank Trust.
Chris Atkinson, South Pennines Woodland Heritage Officer, said: “We are hoping to get people involved and I’m interested in hearing from local groups and organisations, 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.
“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,” continued Chris. “This is vital if we are to protect them for future generations.”
As well as the survey, the project will work with Forest SChools to train a new generation of woodland haritage champions, working closely with the University of Bradford’s School of Archaeological Sciences, with researcher Hywel Lewis studying the interaction between human industry and woodland ecology.
Peter Jordan, Communities Director at the Newground Together, said: “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.
“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.”
There will be a Day School on Saturday, October 15th 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.