The Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership scheme area covers a rural and densely wooded area known historically as part of the High Furness Fells in the southern region of the Lake District National Park.
In 2010, the local community, Cumbria Woodlands, Natural England, Forestry Commission and Lake District National Park Authority formed the Rusland Valley and Fells Landscape Partnership with a shared vision that:
'The Rusland Horizons Scheme encompasses a real living, working landscape. Local people, agencies and visitors will work together to revive traditional skills, and to learn about, enhance and enjoy the heritage, habitats and wildlife of this quiet and very special place.'
The starting point for the Partnership’s work was this area’s heritage landscape and the challenges it faces. The Partnership addressed these issues through fifteen landscape-scale projects organised around four inter-dependent programmes of work that achieved the following aims:
1. Heritage Skills
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.
2. Woodlands and Wildlife
Work in partnership to restore the unique, wooded landscape of the Rusland Valley and Fells and to involve people in enhancing biodiversity by creating habitat stepping stones and monitoring priority species.
3. Hidden Heritage
Improve our understanding of the historic interaction between people and the landscape to inform future planning and enable people to learn about and become involved in conserving our heritage before it disappears.
4. Out and About
Provide better, sustainable access and opportunities to explore our natural and cultural heritage, and to inspire a sense of identity, ownership and pride in the special, intimate and quiet qualities of the Rusland Horizons area.
Project Delivery Plan
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, were involved in the delivery of the projects that achieved these aims.
The Landscape Partnership delivered these projects in a three year period, between 2016 and 2019. The total cost of the scheme was £1.7m. The Heritage Lottery Fund provided £1.4m though it’s Landscape Partnership programme.
From the outset, the scheme’s legacy was a key consideration and all of the projects have been planned with their long term sustainability in mind. As such, it was important that the Partnership’s work secured a legacy that enhances both the area’s landscape heritage and benefits the local community well beyond the life of the HLF funded scheme.