Cumbria Crack

Lancaster University revisit Hardknott Forest: A weekend in the wild

Hardknott Forest

Students from Lancaster University are revisiting the Duddon Valley this coming weekend (2nd /3rd March) to work on the Restoring Hardknott Forest Project. After their successful first trip last December the group were so impressed by the remoteness and beauty of the valley that they have booked accommodation and will stay for the weekend.

The Restoring Hardknott Forest Project aims restore a 600 hectare (about 1000 football pitches) Forestry Commission plantation to a native oak woodland. The project reaches its’ 15th anniversary this year and has been bringing groups of local volunteers, students and schools to Hardknott since 2003.

As well as planting native trees, the regenerating conifers will need to be removed for several years to come, which is where volunteer groups such as Lancaster University are vital.

Project Officer John Hodgson was appointed early in 2018 and has been building up the volunteering base of the project as well as liaising with Forestry Commission staff. After their successful visit last year he is pleased to be able to welcome the group back. “Forest restoration is quite a labour intensive activity, so visiting groups like Lancaster University are a big help to us”.

“It’s also good to see that the students are able to stay in the area for the weekend and enjoy what the Duddon Valley has to offer” he said.

Bethany Lintern of the Student’s Union Environmental Projects Team has organised the weekend, and said “After the success of the last trip, Lancaster University is very excited to be able to return to Hardknott for a weekend residential. The trip has sparked so much interest that all the tickets were gone within the first hour of release! The students are really looking forwards to a weekend of tree planting, lopping and a trip to the local pub for dinner after a hard days work.”

As more native trees such as birch and oak return to the area the wildlife of the area is starting to benefit and the forest is fitting in better with the rest of the Duddon Valley Woodlands. Mammals such as otters and stoats have been photographed and a birds such as woodpeckers, jays and buzzards are often seen in the forest.

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