Building the links for Rockingham Forest
Thoroughsale Wood, Corby
A lottery-funded partnership
The National Lottery Heritage Fund are funding this two-year partnership project to link people to the habitats and wildlife of Rockingham Forest.
Building on the former series of guided walks to lesser-known parts of the forest, there are more opportunities for a wider range of local people to benefit. Some of these walks concentrate on particular themes such as wildflowers, fungi, moths, trees or birds, and linked to them are nature workshops enabling participants to gain more ID skills and engage in more advanced wildlife recording. Other practical workshops provide an introduction to practical woodland management such as coppicing and charcoal making. For those whose want to take their skills further, the partners are providing extended courses in, for example, running a friends group, tool use, leading volunteers, running a tree nursery, etc. There is appropriate accreditation for those embarking on a career in conservation.
A key component of the project is woodland education for young people with an extension of the RFS Teaching Trees programme enabling more local schools, which are normally unable to access the forest, to take part in educational visits. To extend the programme further there is training for teaching assistants to become new Forest School leaders.
We were delighted that Sophie van den Bergh was appointed as Project Officer. She introduced herself and described her first week in the job in a blog article here.
Community Grant Scheme
Until September 2023 volunteers and community groups can apply for funding up to £6000 to support projects linked to Rockingham Forest Vision. More details here.
The partners are supporting those parishes involved in creating Parish Nature Recovery Plans, by providing advice, training and data searches as required. There are Community Grants available to support related community-led proects.
There is a new Tree Warden scheme, mapping of veteran trees, updating the Ancient Woodland Inventory and an extension to the River Warden scheme that operates along the Welland and Nene catchment areas.
In these ways the project is developing skills, creating employment opportunities, inviting participation in wildlife surveys and encouraging habitat management and outdoor activities. Through cooperation with local landowners, the project is initiating discussions to build towards better management and an extension of the range of wildlife habitats that are distinctive and important in the area, making links between hotspots with wildlife corridors.
Nene Rivers Trust
The lead partner on the Building the Links for Rockingham Forest project, NRT was formerly known as River Nene Regional Park, and has a long track record of delivering community-based environmental projects in the Nene catchment. We are employing a Project Officer for two years to co-ordinate project delivery and support the partners, as well as providing a part-time Senior Project Officer to oversee the work. We also administer the project and chair the steering group.
North Northants Council
NNC is expanding volunteering opportunities through our Corby Woodland Project. In particular we are running a variety of training courses for volunteers in the network of Friends Groups operating in the six woodland areas that we manage in Corby. We have a RFS 'Forestry Roots' trainee and two Kickstart placements working with our team of Woodland Rangers and offer training for teaching assistants to lead Forest School activities. Our guided walk programme is being expanded for families and special groups.
Wildlife Trust BCN
Rockingham Forest is one of the Trust’s Living Landscapes. Alongside managing our six main reserves, we are encouraging wildlife training and recording through short day courses for local people and a "bioblitz" with a focus on Rockingham Forest wildlife and habitats.
We’re also running seasonal family guided walks around the Corby area, expanding our dormouse monitoring into new areas and supporting the development of Parish Nature Recovery Plans.
East Mercia Rivers Trust
The River Welland forms the northern border of the RFV area, and EMRT (formerly the Welland Rivers Trust) is an environmental charity dedicated to improving the river.
Our goal is to reconnect people with the natural and cultural heritage of their rivers and we run a citizen science scheme for those who wish to become River Wardens. The Building the Links Project is enabling us to recruit 20 more River Wardens and to provide them with training and equipment.
Hazel Woodland Products
Living and working in Rawhaw Wood near Pipewell, Hugh Ross and Carolyn Church produce a range of natural products using coppiced hazel, continuing the traditional management that goes back over 400 years.
They are running a series of guided walks to explain their way of working and the sustainable lifestyle that is still possible today. In addition they are provide training courses for those wishing to gain skills in traditional coppicing and charcoal burning.
Royal Forestry Society
The RFS is expanding its existing Teaching Trees programme for children from Corby's schools, with subsidised coach travel for targeted schools.
A full-time RFS ‘Forestry Roots’ trainee is employed for 1 year and placed with North Northamptonshire Council Woodland Ranger Team.
The RFS is also providing introductory training in woodland management for landowners and managers.
We have had a strong connection with Rockingham Forest, not least through our successful re-introduction of the Chequered Skipper butterfly as part of the Back from the Brink project.
Our work on butterflies throughout the forest continues, but the Building the Links project is enabling us also to help people understand and appreciate the many day-time-flying moths that can be found here.
Easton Hornstocks and Collyweston Woods are National Nature Reserves managed by Natural England and are normally only open to permit holders. Access is being allowed to these woods during special events without negatively impacting their important habitats. We will also be recruiting and training new volunteers to work there. We are also supporting Parish Nature Recovery Plans for parishes wholly or partially in the project area.
We are very pleased to be supporting this project to link people to the habitats and wildlife of Rockingham Forest by making the woodlands and property that we manage available for events of all sorts including training, guided walks and educational visits.
We are hosting the project in the Top Lodge offices at Fineshade by making office and meeting space available, and we work closely with the project officer who is based there.