About the Vision
Part of Bedford Purlieus National Nature Reserve
Rockingham Forest Vision
Working to connect landscapes, people and wildlife
We aim to:
connect local communities to the natural and cultural heritage of Rockingham Forest and raise its local and national profile;
connect the core remaining wooded areas with enriched biodiverse landscapes.
Currently the members of Rockingham Forest Vision core team are:
Sophie van den Bergh
Conceiving a vision
In 2020 four of us went for a walk around the edge of Fineshade Wood and gazed across the arable fields to other wooded areas in the distance. We talked about how the area used to be a continuous pattern of woodland and wood pasture as far as Stamford and Wansford to the north and east, part of the great Rockingham Forest, which stretched much further to the south, even as far as Northampton.
We talked about how changes to government funding post-Brexit might make it more likely that the remnant areas of woodland could one day be reconnected, allowing woodland wildlife to spread from one to another, with easier access for people too.
We made a commitment to find out what we could do about it, and Rockingham Forest Vision was conceived.
Getting it together
The next eighteen months was spent talking, talking ... and more talking! There were meetings with potential partners, in particular Natural England; meetings with other forest-based projects elsewhere; meetings in houses, meetings on Zoom, meetings in the woods .
An early decision was to apply for lottery funding and that needed a lead partner organisation. Nene Rivers Trust (then called River Nene Regional Park) were keen to be involved and to start to put together a partnership bid, something with which they had lots of experience and previous success. RNRP made it possible for Corinne Muir to work with us and her involvement became invaluable.
Forming a partnership
In November 2021, the vision really began to take shape as potential partners met at Top Lodge, Fineshade to discuss a substantial application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The artist Rebecca Osborne was on hand to record proceedings and she produced this visual record of some of the discussions. (Click here for larger version)
In 2022 things started to happen
In January 2022 with the help of our partners we began to organise guided walks in some of the lesser-known areas of Rockingham Forest - for example Thoroughsale Wood in Corby, Jack's Green, Fineshade's Assarts, areas around Kings Cliffe and some of the National Nature Reserves. There were sixteen walks during the year and most were fully booked - you can see forthcoming planned walks here on the Events page.
In June 2022 we received Community Funding from North Northamptonshire Council in order to set up this website for Rockingham Forest Vision.
And in August we heard that the carefully designed bid to The National Lottery Heritage Fund had been successful - nearly a quarter of a million pounds to be spent over the next two years. The project was officially launched in November - and you can read lots more about it here: "Building the Links for Rockingham Forest".
In 2023 the pace quickened
With the appointment of Sophie Van den Bergh as Project Officer the year got off to an exciting and really busy start.
Here are a few of the highlights:
along with our partners, we ran all sorts of activities from coppicing and charcoal making to wildlife walks and identification training;
local people undertook accredited training to help them to manage their green spaces;
we began to train Forest School leaders and got children out in the Forest through Teaching Trees;
2024 - it's full steam ahead