Charnwood Forest Landscape Partnership
Charnwood Forest is England’s unexpected uplands. Having been created in a volcanic eruption 600 million years ago in the oceans near the South Pole, Charnwood has developed rich layers of heritage. Its landscape is defined by granite-topped hills, wooded valleys, heathlands and grasslands. Its shaded lanes reveal Arts and Craft cottages, ancient monasteries and drystone walls. It is a surprising outpost of upland England in lowland Leicestershire.
But, despite being on the doorstep of cities, towns and villages, its value and beauty are hidden from most communities and have been overlooked for protected status. This puts it at risk: if people are not passionate about Charnwood Forest, they will not understand its importance and, ultimately, the features that make it special risk being forgotten and lost.
So the story of Charnwood needs to be told: celebrating its internationally important geology, connecting people to its history and securing its sustainable future.
Charnwood Forest is a unique and important landscape. Its unexpected nature is one of its strengths. But it is also a critical weakness. Many of the people who live, work and play in Charnwood are not aware of its value. They drive through on the M1, walk the dog at a country park or visit local pubs without noticing the layers of heritage around and beneath them. If they don’t know about its importance, it’s hardly surprising that they are unaware of the pressure it is under from development growth, visitor numbers and the loss of its heritage.
To bring about a major change in how we protect, manage and celebrate the heritage of Charnwood Forest, the partners in the Charnwood Forest Regional Park submitted a successful bid to Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a Landscape Partnership Scheme, which will celebrate the area’s internationally important volcanic legacy. It will enable and encourage people to explore its rich landscape and diverse heritage. It will provide deeper engagement for residents and visitors, while contributing to the local economy. It will coordinate management at a landscape-scale to make Charnwood’s heritage more resilient to growing pressures. Most importantly, it will create a greater sense of local pride, inspiring communities to restore the character of this special place: ‘Made by volcanoes, shaped by people’.
Bidding for a Landscape Partnership Scheme is a two-stage process. We submitted our Round 1 application in May 2017 and were delighted to receive a first round pass from HLF the following October.
We are now in a two-year Development Phase, during which we will undertake studies to provide key information and to work up the detail of how our projects will be delivered. We are currently recruiting a new Development Team to drive forward this work and, when they are in place, they will be working with people in and around Charnwood Forest to fulfil the exciting vision that has been developed for the area.