An early form of woodland management has been given a new lease of life in a village at the edge of Northumberland National Park.
A two-day coppicing course, run by the Sill project and Bedale-based Heritage Craft Alliance Ltd, was held in ancient woodland near Kirknewton in the Cheviot Hills.
The event was oversubscribed – suggesting that there is still demand for the Neolithic pastime more than 6,000 years since it first began.
As a form of forestry based on the harvesting of woodland, this Defra-supported practical course has helped to preserve an important rural habitat in Northumberland National Park, opening up the dense canopy to support many species of wildlife.
It also offered a special training opportunity to enable people from all walks of life to develop knowledge and understanding of some of the oldest rural skills.
Georgia Villalobos, learning and participation coordinator for The Sill project, said: “Equipping people with traditional skills is so important.
“The Northumberland countryside is a rich tapestry of history and heritage and it’s vital for the preservation of our infrastructure that these aspects are conserved and brought into the modern age.
“We are hoping to work with other businesses and accommodation providers from across Northumberland National Park and beyond to help support the development of our activity programme.”
Jonathan Pounder, who led the course on behalf of Heritage Craft Alliance, added: “Coppicing is a dying rural skill and it’s so important for the environment that we help to bring it back to life.
“Centuries ago, the woodland in Kirknewton we were working on would have been coppiced on a cyclical basis, offering the rural community sustainable timber. These benefits still apply today and we are hoping to bring coppicing back into mainstream use.
“This course was such a success because it appealed to such a wide range of individuals, from landowners and apprentices to people looking to try out a new skill.”