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Woodlands in Cumbria receive £500k boost

A new conservation project will receive half a million pounds to increase woodland creation in Cumbria.

Woodland Futures is a partnership project being delivered by the Lake District Foundation and Cumbria Woodlands.

It will receive £499,800 from the Trees Call to Action Fund.

Woodland Futures is one of 12 taking place nationwide that has been awarded a grant from the £6 million Trees Call to Action Fund, led by Defra, the Forestry Commission and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Woodland Futures will run for three years until March 2025. It aims to increase woodland creation and bring existing woodlands into management to ensure they have a bright future.

The project will connect those that own and manage land. It will provide advice, information, training, and coordination between different organisations all with the goal of supporting woodlands across Cumbria.

Several new roles will be created. Staff will be employed by The Lake District Foundation and managed by Cumbria Woodlands.

The Trees Call to Action Fund supports projects which protect trees and woodlands, boost forestry skills and jobs, develop woodland creation partnerships, and engage communities with nature. The fund will distribute grants between £250,000-500,000 to be spent over three years, funding 12 projects across England.

Neville Elstone, Director Cumbria Woodlands, said: “This is a hugely exciting project. Cumbria Woodlands has been encouraging, supporting and advising landowners for over 30 years. Woodland Futures allows us to continue to do this vital work while engaging new audiences and helping to secure the future of woodlands in Cumbria.”

Sarah Swindley, Chief Executive Lake District Foundation, said: “This funding is a fantastic boost to woodlands in Cumbria. Woodland Futures will develop partnerships with the common goal of protecting our woodlands and creating a better future for them.

“It also extremely timely as this new project comes off the back of severe winter storms which have damaged woodlands and hedgerows across Cumbria.”

The other projects funded through this year’s Trees Call to Action Fund include six new Woodland Creation Partnerships across rural and urban areas; two projects to develop the skills and workforce of the trees and forestry sector; and three projects which engage people, by planting an NHS forest, engaging farmers to improve woodland condition, and restoring England’s hedgerows.

All projects funded will support progress towards achieving the key objectives of the England Trees Action Plan – the Government’s long-term plans for England’s trees, woodlands and forests.

Find out more about Cumbria Woodlands.

“Woodlands should be treasured by all” – meet graduate forester Bryce

Cumbria has a new kid on the block taking his first steps in forestry employment.

Bryce Flannaghan is a new graduate forester employed by the Lake District Foundation and managed by Cumbria Woodlands.

As part of his learning Bryce will work alongside United Utilities staff making lasting improvements to woodlands in Thirlmere. We caught-up with Bryce to find out more.

Bryce at Thirlmere. Photo Ewen Turner/Cumbria Woodlands.

Tell us about your role 

My role was created as part of a partnership between Cumbria Woodlands, United Utilities and the Lake District Foundation, who secured Green Recovery Challenge Funding generously provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

This will finance the restoration of plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) to their former natural condition throughout Thirlmere Valley. This will increase overall biodiversity, mitigate the effects of extreme weather events and climate change, as well as improving the water quality of Thirlmere reservoir, which supplies water throughout the Northwest.

My responsibility is the planning and implementation of this woodland restoration and I hope to improve and protect these unique habitats so future generations can benefit from them.

Thirlmere. Photo Ewen Turner / Cumbria Woodlands.

How pleased are you to start as graduate forester?

The forest industry is full of passionate and knowledgeable individuals, which makes for very strong competition when seeking employment as a graduate with little experience.

There are few apprenticeship schemes or graduate places that will allow someone who is new to the industry to develop their skills and connect with professionals and I was very lucky to have secured one with Cumbria Woodlands.

They, in partnership with United Utilities and the Lake District Foundation have supported me in my transition from education to full-time work, providing essential equipment and offering many training opportunities. I couldn’t ask for a better start in forestry.

Are woodlands a passion of yours?

At first, no. I finished my A-Levels and had no Idea what I wanted to do for a career, but I knew I wanted to work outdoors. I decided to do a forestry management course at the University of Cumbria on a whim and instantly loved it. I had never really thought about the importance of woodlands beyond their production of oxygen and as a place to go for a walk.

Seeing the vast scope of industry reliant on forest products and learning how sustainable forest management benefits the wider environment and the health and well-being of society, made me realise that woodlands should be treasured and protected by all.

What are you most looking forward to in your role?

Forestry and its related sectors comprise a wide range of disciplines and everyone I have met so far has had a wealth of knowledge and experience, and a passion for their respective fields.

I always learn something new when talking to colleagues or meeting woodland owners / managers on site. This, in combination with the many training and learning opportunities provided by Cumbria Woodlands, mean I can look forward to expanding my knowledge and experience while in this role and hopefully this will continue throughout my career.

Have you always lived in the Lake District?

I’m originally from the North East but after moving to the Lake District for university I couldn’t leave…

There’s a reason so many people visit the national park each year, the landscape is stunning and there’s no end of things to do if you enjoy being outdoors. I’m very fortunate to be able to live and work here.

What is your favourite place in the Lake District?

As a forester, you would probably think it would be a pristine woodland somewhere or the location of a remarkable ancient tree, but I prefer a challenging hike up a fell.

My favourite area at the moment is the Langdale Pikes and If I’m feeling brave, I’ll scramble up Jacks Rake along the way. I should also mention my favourite woodland though, which is Heald Wood, a National Trust site on the west shore of Windermere with a nice mixture of ancient broad-leaved woodland, large conifers and excellent views across the lake.

What are your passions outside of work?

Outside of work I enjoy climbing, hiking, and wild camping… and pretty much anything else you can do outdoors in the lakes. I also play the drums whenever I get the chance which, to the delight of my next door neighbours, isn’t too often.

Photo Ewen Turner / Cumbria Woodlands
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