Back in December we braved a gloomy winter day for the cosy surroundings and roaring fires of Catton Hall in Frodsham.
Representatives from all the partners in Saltscape gathered to review our successes, challenges and progress so far, and to look to the final year of project delivery and beyond.
Paul Nolan, Chief Executive of the Mersey Forest kicked off the day with an inspiring talk about the importance of landscape in our everyday lives, and its relevance to public policy in a local and international context.
Andrea Powell demonstrated the practical, day-to-day impact the work of Cheshire Wildlife Trust is having on the management of designated ‘Local Wildlife Sites’ across the Saltscape, particularly in relation to grassland as an important habitat. Professor Mike Nevell from the University of Salford discussed industrial heritage of the Saltscape and the success of our community archaeology project. Nicole Morris from Animate! talked about her exciting plans for performance-based projects with local people in 2017.
Rachael Maskill, Saltscape manager said, “Like all Landscape Partnership Schemes, Saltscape has a wide and varied scope. With over 30 major projects being delivered by no fewer than 15 organisations in 3 years it can be a complex initiative to get to grips with . Today has given us the opportunity to understand the context of our work, how projects complement each other and importantly, the impact they are having on the landscape and communities of the Weaver Valley. ”
Where can we take the energy and potential gained by Saltscape next? Could Cheshire Salt eventually gain World Heritage Status? Roger White from the Ironbridge Institute argued that in theory, this could be a long-term goal for the organisations involved in managing the area. Shaun Kelleher from the Ironbridge Museums Trust began to point towards synergies with other heritage projects and organisations that have harnessed the power of volunteers and how we might be able to tap into support mechanisms.
Andrew Hull, from The Sandstone Ridge Trust, the reincarnation of the former Habitats and Hillforts Scheme (our closest neighbouring scheme) talked about their journey from Landscape Partnership to Trust status. Simon Lees from Countryside Training Partnership ended the day with an overview of his mid-term evaluation of Saltscape.
There will be more workshops over forthcoming months to discuss next steps for Saltscape. Exciting times ahead!