Rockingham Forest project raised almost £250,000 from lottery fund

A two-year project aimed at bringing people closer to a historic forest has received £248,599 in support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Building the Links for Rockingham Forest will offer guided walks and workshops in Northamptonshire woodland and other habitats.

The Nene Rivers Trust said it would “reconnect people to the natural environment that nourishes them”.

King John (r. 1199-1216) used to hunt in the forest.

Rockingham Forest encompasses an area between the Rivers Nene and Welland, stretching from Corby to the edge of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.

Project leaders said it is home to “some of the best old growth woodland in England”, some of which is found in central Corby.

They added that although remnants of the original habitat remain, fragmentation of the original forest through development, agriculture, commercial forestry and mineral extraction “has reduced and continues to reduce the value of the forest”.

It was hoped the project, whose partners include North Northamptonshire Council, the Royal Forestry Society (RFS), Natural England and the Nene Rivers Trust, would bring hundreds of people to the forest to learn more about wildlife.

The current series of guided walks to lesser known parts of the forest will be built on and some will focus on themes such as wildflowers, mushrooms, moths, trees or birds.

These will be linked to workshops that will allow people to gain more identification skills and engage in advanced wildlife recording, hands-on forest management such as coppice and charcoal making.

An expansion of the RFS Teaching Trees program would allow for school visits.

The Nene Rivers Trust said the project would also highlight the nature of central Corby, which has parts of old growth forest within its boundaries.

The Trust’s Chief Executive, Kathryn Soares, said: “This funding will support our enthusiastic and committed partnership to realize ambitions to reconnect local people with the natural environments they preserve.”

Natural England chairman Tony Juniper said the forest project is a “beautiful example of the large-scale ambitions that we must pursue when we plan to restore nature to England, to not only support the return of our depleted wildlife, but also to improve the historical environment and create more opportunities for everyone to enjoy this magnificent landscape”.

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