Connecting People and Nature

Connecting People and Nature in the Forest of Bowland

The Ernest Cook Trust

Built on the success of the outdoor learning and wellbeing work we have achieved through the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership, the Forest of Bowland National Landscape and The Ernest Cook Trust are continuing their partnership, and thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund are delighted to introduce their new Connecting People and Nature project which started in Spring 2023.

Based in Downham, this is a three-year collaboration between national education charity The Ernest Cook Trust and Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, working in partnership with Forest of Bowland National Landscape and funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The project’s focus is on promoting nature, wellbeing and Outdoor Learning, and will cover the Forest of Bowland and urban fringes, reaching as far as Preston and Lancaster.

The Ernest Cook Trust devises and delivers programmes that promote Outdoor Learning for young people, families and communities. Through grant-giving, it supports other organisations in the field of Outdoor Learning, and awards some £2m in grants each year.  The Trust prioritises working with young people from underserved communities.

Heritage Lottery Fund

Every person should know the feeling of being utterly captivated and intrigued by nature, but this isn't always the case; many people feel nature's not for them, or not accessible.  Our 3-year project will encourage more people to discover that nature is for everyone, and inspire them to feel happier and healthier, and foster a lifelong connection with nature. It will do this by providing accessible and supported outdoor well-being sessions at locations across the National Landscape.  We will also provide Community Leader courses to enable people to run their own sessions. In addition, the project will engage with children at 24 schools, inspiring them to embed outdoor learning in their curriculum and to utilise local greenspaces as well as safe locations around the National Landscape. 

Activities will be delivered by a Community Engagement Officer, our Outdoor Learning Officer, and an Outdoor Learning Trainee.  The Outdoor Learning Trainee role has now gone live, for further information visit the Ernest Cook Trust website.

Activities will be free to attend, with free transport offered. They will be open to people experiencing social isolation, loneliness, or poor mental health; and sessions will be run for children, families and young people.

We will focus on communities from Morecambe, Lancaster, Garstang, Preston, Burnley, Clitheroe, Nelson and Colne.

Our project will connect with our natural heritage: activities will enable people to connect and care for everyday nature; wildflowers, butterflies, trees and birds. It will connect people to each other, their local natural spaces and to high value natural spaces in the National Landscape.  The project has three strands:

1. Community engagement

Connecting People & Nature poster Feb 2024

Activity sessions will take place throughout the year.  

For further information contact Deborah Woods:

In February there are two sessions planned, please email to reserve your place and to request the free transport.
You can download the details here.

Outdoor Learning

2. Outdoor Learning

A bespoke package of support will be developed for 24 schools in under served areas to meet each school's needs. It is likely to be a combination of on-site work, finding ways to take more of the curriculum outdoors, developing outdoor space, training for teachers and off-site visits to local green spaces and into the National Landscape.  Several schools will be targeted in an area, building links and peer support between them.

Outdoor sessions will also be held in local nature spaces for children and families within the community area of the schools, and outdoor activities for young people will be held during school holidays. A trainee role will upskill a person to develop a career in the outdoor learning sector.

For further information contact Alison Cross:

Walking through Downham

3. Community Leaders

A multiday training course will help people to develop skills and confidence to lead/engage people in their communities, plan and organise activities, increase understanding of opportunities for people to get outdoors and connect with nature. Once upskilled, they will be supported to arrange and run activities during the life of the project.