Lakes partnership chairman pleased with university’s ‘great ambition’ on return to campus

Lakes partnership chairman pleased with university’s ‘great ambition’ on return to campus

The chairman of the Lake District National Parks Partnership (LDNPP), was pleased with the University of Cumbria’s ‘great ambition’ when he returned to the university’s Ambleside campus after a break of several years.

Stephen Henwood made the visit to hear how the university could offer its expertise to the LDNPP, which is made up of several organisations, which all have responsibility for the Lake District and its development. The university wanted to demonstrate to Mr Henwood its undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum and its research expertise and offer assistance to the LDNPP.

It was the first time Mr Henwood had returned to the campus since being appointed chairman of the LDNPP in April this year. But it is not his first encounter with the university, for he was chair of the board of directors six years ago before the Ambleside campus reopened in 2014.

During the meeting, Stephen Henwood met with academics from across the university’s broad research portfolio who briefly explained their areas of research which impact positively upon the Lake District region, and outlined opportunities for future collaboration.

“It’s great to see how the Ambleside campus has come on and it’s great to hear about the potential for the future and the great ambition the university has to take it forward,” said Stephen Henwood.

“Today I got a really clear sense of the wide range of activity and the increasing maturity of what’s going. The news that there are now over 100 PhD students in the university is a really significant achievement and the awarding of degree awarding powers for that, so that seems to me to be of great potential.

“But I also think that the very creative thinking about how the expertise of the university can be brought to the benefit of the LDNPP and the LDNPP can provide opportunities for work for the university, which will in time build its intellectual property and its reputation both nationally and internationally.”

Ending on his hopes for the future, Stephen said: “I hope to build on the opportunity presented here today. As chairman of the LDNPP, I have a clear task to produce some key documents; the state of the park and the next management plan but that work can be hugely informed and enhanced by the support of the university and in turn that work will enhance the reputation of the university.”

During the meeting university academics outlined several key areas of research, including: methods for landscape restoration and mitigating against erosion; upland farming practices and livelihood assets; climate smart forestry; community conservation and the impact of outdoor learning on pupil attainment and environmental citizenship.

Outlining her hopes for a closer partnership, Dr Elspeth Lees, Head of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies at the University of Cumbria said:

“We seek to work with and for the Lake District Park Partnership. The university continues to invest in the Ambleside campus and we have a growing undergraduate and post-graduate portfolio supported by a multidisciplinary academic team. The Lake District and surrounding areas provide a rich classroom for our students and our research.”

“Working with the LDNPP we can identify and develop case studies, dissertation projects, long-term field research projects, placements and student volunteering opportunities - to enhance their portfolio of practice and student enterprise opportunities. This is of benefit to the university but also a very able and committed resource who can challenge and inform current thinking within the LDNPP.”