THE woodlands around Durham Cathedral will be preserved for the community and future generations with the help of a £287,500 grant.
The forestry, which dates back to the 18th century, and riverbanks are due to be restored and conserved thanks to cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Planned works include improving the structure and condition of the woodland, conserving the diverse range of trees, stabilising the banks and resurfacing the public footpaths.
The area’s wildlife habitats will undergo extensive ecological surveying and a nature reserve zone will be created to help creatures thrive.
Project leaders plan to put people at the heart of the programme, with the community offered the chance to get involved in a variety of ways.
A volunteer scheme will be introduced, encouraging people to engage with the conservation and maintenance of the site, help to deliver guided walks and talks to visitors and support outdoor education workshops for local schools.
A green exercise programme will encourage people to enjoy and use the space for recreation and leisure activities.
Ivor Crowther, head of the HLF, said: “This project will see the landscapes that surround the cathedral revitalised, wildlife habitats protected and the site opened up for local people.
“It’s also great to see that volunteers will be involved.
“HLF know that they are integral to the success of our projects and make a real difference.
“We are delighted to be supporting this project and are looking forward to seeing the end result.”
The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham, said: “Durham Cathedral is indivisible from its landscape environment, including the surrounding riverbanks.
“The wooded peninsula and deep river gorge give the cathedral its unique and spectacular setting.
“We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting our plans to rejuvenate and care for this much-loved landscape, which is enjoyed by residents and visitors to the cathedral as a place of peace, beauty and recreation in a busy city centre.”
Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham, added: “It’s wonderful to see that local people have been involved in the development of the project and will be the first to benefit when it’s completed. Well done to everyone who has worked so hard to make this project a reality.”
Part of the project will be the introduction of an interactive education programme, which will include workshops and training in habitat conservation and wildlife and botany surveying.
Students from the nearby universities and colleges will also be able to use the sites as environmental case studies.