A scheme has been launched to the tune of £496,000 to survey and celebrate the cultural heritage of the woodland of Yorkshire in the South Pennines.


With full support from Yorkshire Water, the project is being led by Pennine Projects. The significance of Yorkshire Water lending its support resides in the fact that Yorkshire Water is indeed a major landowner in the South Pennines, boasting 300 hectares of woodland dotted all around its reservoirs in Calderdale and Kirklees.

The area of the South Pennines covered by woodland amounts to only 4% and much of its centuries long history is either unknown or has been lost.

As a result, the project’s aim is to recruit some volunteers who’ll be roped in to help complete some of the ecological and archaeological surveys of the woodland, in a bid to improve the cultural and environmental understanding of it. The project is also intended to inspire the public to visit their local woodland and get better acquainted with how its heritage has aided in the shaping of local communities people live in 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 regions heritage.”

With financial support secured from Yorkshire Water to fund the newly-created role, Pennine Prospects has hired a Woodland Heritage Officer to take the lead on the culture project.

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.”

 In addition to surveying the woodlands, the project will deploy new skills and techniques to narrate the story of the South Pennines’ woodlands.

The project will for example be working together with Forest Schools to train a new generation of woodland heritage champions. The project will also involve working very closely with the University of Bradford’s School of Archaeological Sciences. Hywei Lewis, who is a researcher based at the university, will be looking at the interaction between woodland ecology and human industry in the South Pennines.