From acorns to heirlooms - Mosaic champions see the wood between the trees

From logs to lumber, from acorns to heirlooms – Mosaic Champions are learning about the full wood cycle thanks to a unique initiative in the Lake District National Park.

The Campaign for National Parks Mosaic Champions, from Barrow, Cumbria, are taking part in the programme, which over the past few months has seen them chop down woodland from sustainably managed coppice woodlands in South Lakes, Cumbria, sawing it into different piles ahead of this weekend’s charcoal burning challenge.

The Champions burnt  the wood in three barrel kilns over a day this weekend (21 June) and used some of the charcoal produced to cook a barbeque.

The next session – due at the end of September – will see the Champions making and using an Iron Age forge. They will use some of the charcoal they have produced from the wood they cut, to forge simple tools for green woodwork.
Future sessions will include a greenwood working weekend in October and a coppicing and celebratory event in November.

Clare Dyson, Mosaic Lake District project officer, said the Champions were taking part in ten sessions over ten months to follow the full wood cycle from harvesting through to different forms of production to planting and regeneration.
“It’s a fantastic experience for the young Mosaic Champions who are picking up so many invaluable life skills through the course,” she added.

The course is being run with support from Cumbrian-based company Woodmatters, Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership, which has been working with the Lake District Mosaic Champions on a range of landscape, heritage and archaeological projects and the Lake District National Park Authority.

Gareth Thomas, Woodmatters owner, said: “The woodlands that have been coppiced are part of a landscape cycle that goes back generations. It’s really exciting to see people exploring and learning about things that are new to them, to recognise the way that the land and communities are linked and to start to feel they have a connection with the woods.”
Marian Jones, Rusland Horizons development officer, said the Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership Scheme is all about local people, organisations and visitors working together to revive traditional skills, and to learn about, enhance and enjoy the heritage, habitats and wildlife of this quiet and very special place. 

“Full Cycle has been a brilliant example of the sort of projects that we hope to deliver from next year. It has been great to see young people so enthusiastic about using traditional woodland management techniques. The woods have bene managed in this way for centuries, but there has been a decline in coppicing in recent years. Through projects like this, we hope to sustain the woodlands and coppicing skills and inspire more people to get involved.

Andrew Wilkinson, Lake District National Park Authority ranger, added: “It is really good to see young people getting involved with the coppice work in our woodlands, helping them learn new skills with new experiences so that woodland skills are passed on for the future management of the Rusland woodlands.”

Notes to Editors:
The Mosaic project for young people is funded by the Big Lottery and is run by the Campaign for National Parks in partnership with the YHA and the Lake District, Exmoor, New Forest, Northumberland and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authorities. The Campaign for National Parks is a national charity dedicated to campaigning to protect and promote all the National Parks in England and Wales.
Rusland Horizons: Working a Lakeland Landscape is one of the first community-led partnership schemes to be funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Between 2016-9 it will carry out a range of projects that will involve local communities in recording, restoring, managing and celebrating the heritage, wildlife and wooded landscape of the Rusland Valley and Fells.
Woodmatters is a local business that aims to work alongside local communities to recognise and celebrate the emotional, physical and environmental benefits of healthy, sustainable woodlands.