Hartpury students to help preserve heart, health and heritage of the Forest

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Hartpury students will be helping open people’s eyes to the wonders of the Forest of Dean and preserving its treasures for future generations as part of an exciting partnership project.

The college has committed to being a major partner within an exciting new landscape project called the ‘Foresters’ Forest’, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Its aim is to raise awareness and participation in the built, natural and cultural heritage that makes the Forest of Dean special through a range of community-based activities, volunteering opportunities and projects.

As part of the project, Hartpury students could be involved in everything from wildlife surveys and conservation work to completing work placements and research projects for their dissertations. They have already helped out with some pond and river surveys, including of the lake on Hartpury’s own 360-hectare estate.

“The Forest of Dean, from its woodland and workers to its buildings and biodiversity, is such an integral part of Gloucestershire’s heritage and industry, and we’re proud to be playing a key role in such an important project,” said Hartpury lecturer, James Swanson.

“It’s also a really exciting opportunity for our degree students to explore their own areas of interest, gain practical experience, collect data for their own research, network with key people within the conservation sector and give their CVs a boost, while having a lot of fun of course!”

The Foresters’ Forest project has five elements:

  • Our Living Forest - projects will survey, record and monitor our wildlife, to plan and devise a permanent network of open space and ecological connections to protect and increase populations of the Forest’s plants, animals and insects.
  • Understanding Our Past – projects toreveal the Forest’s past, to tell its story and capture the knowledge and memories of the older generation.
  • Celebrating Our Forest – projects to celebrate the Forest’s heritage (be that natural, built or cultural) and to engage with its vibrant musical traditions or get involved with literature, poetry and the use of the Forest dialect.
  • Our Forest’s Future - these projects will facilitate training in a range of heritage skills so that traditions such as Freemining and Commoning will continue.
  • Explore Our Forest -secure the knowledge from the project to share, inspire and enlighten our neighbours, our children and visitors to the Forest and making this knowledge accessible to all. This may be through physical or intellectual access or through new technology such as mobile apps

Hartpury’s students are set to be involved in a range of biodiversity work in support of the project in the coming months.

This could include investigating the impact of wild boar or fallow deer on the Forest’s flora and fauna, exploration of breeding site characteristics or population dynamics of a range of indigenous species such as atlantic salmon, lamprey, great crested newts, adder and wood white butterflies or looking at the winter feeding activity of horseshoe bats.

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