No less than £496,000 has been pumped into a scheme launched to survey and celebrate the South Pennines Yorkshire woodland’s cultural heritage.
Pennine Prospects is leading the project, fully supported by Yorkshire Water — a major landowner in the South Pennines with no less than 300 hectares of woodland to its name, all dotted around its reservoirs in Calderdale and Kirklees.
Only 4% of the South Pennines is covered by woodland with much of its centuries long history having been lost or is totally unknown.
Consequently, the project harbours ambitions of recruiting volunteers to come in and help undertake some of the ecological and archaeological surveys of the woodland, in a bid to improve the environmental and cultural understanding of it. One of the project’s other intentions is to inspire the public, sparking them to visit their woodland and learn how its heritage aided in the process of shaping local communities people live in and call home today.
Geoff Lomas, Recreation Manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “We have over 300 hectares of woodlands in the South Pennines area some of which is ancient woodland. Within these woodlands we want to identify, record and celebrate the archaeology, heritage and cultural past so we can protect it. We then want to help inspire people to visit a woodland near them and learn more about its history and cultural significance. The part woodlands have played in people’s lives, and economic development of the area is under recorded and we want to unearth, celebrate and put on record this forgotten part of the region’s heritage.”
A Woodland Heritage Officer has been hired by Pennine Prospects to take the lead on the culture project, with financial support secured from Yorkshire Water to fund the new role.
Chris Atkinson, the newly appointed Woodland Heritage Officer for Pennine Prospects, explained: “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 it. This is vital if we are to protect woodland for future generations.”
The project will also make use of new techniques and skills to tell the story of the South Pennines’ woodlands, in addition to surveying the woodlands.
For instance, the project will be working together with Forest Schools and training a new generation of woodland heritage champions. The project will also entail a close working relationship with the University of Bradford’s School of Archaeological Sciences. Hywei Lewis will be looking at the interaction between human industry and woodland ecology in the South Pennines, as a researcher based at the university.