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Natural and Industrial Heritage – Land of Oak & Iron Partnership

The Land of Oak & Iron Partnership is a public/private collaboration between three local authorities (Durham CC, Gateshead Council and Northumberland CC), Groundwork NE and the recently established Land of Oak & Iron Trust, building on the success of a four-year Landscape Partnership project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and managed by Groundwork NE.

It involves a range of projects exploring the area’s natural and industrial heritage, many involving teams of volunteers, as well as activities run at and from the Land of Oak & Iron Heritage Centre in Winlaton Mill, the Lodge at Blackhill Park in Consett and the Tyne Riverside Centre in Prudhoe. With a strong emphasis on encouraging the public to experience the outdoors and the natural environment, we also work closely with cultural organisations and visual artists, writers and makers, particularly those resident in the LOI area.

One of the most successful strands of work from the outset has been woodland based activity, involving volunteers undertaking tree planting, coppicing, charcoal burning, scything and more, in both public and privately-owned woodland.

Over the four-year period up to March 2020 the achievements included:

  • 140 ha of biodiversity and landscape areas have been enhanced and maintained 
  • 80 wildlife and heritage sites in the area have been improved or designated and 5 features installed to increase biodiversity 
  • 14 km of access routes created and improved with 15 new walks and heritage trails celebrating the Land of Oak & Iron area 
  • 3,500+ wildlife survey records submitted 

As the Partnership involves three local authorities – Gateshead, Northumberland and Durham- we are in a unique position whereby the sustainability/environmental policies of all three can connect with Land of Oak & Iron initiatives. For example, we plan, through talks and via the LOI website, to highlight the connections between the industrial history centred around Winlaton Mill and Crowley’s Ironworks and the groundbreaking and internationally recognised work now being undertaken by Gateshead Council in Winlaton Mill, piloting new approaches to sustainable forms of domestic heating.

Those involved in the Land of Oak & Iron Partnership will continue to encourage the public to experience and volunteer in the natural environment, thereby increasing awareness of issues around climate change. We are committed to sharing knowledge on climate change and carbon reduction measures including plans for encouraging green travel and the shift away from private vehicle use’.

Finally, we will provide an outlet, via the three centres involved, for information from local authorities, NEECCo, and others regarding projects underway throughout the North East, and will also be keen to provide data to contribute to the monitoring of activity region wide.

We encourage our partners and supporters to share their examples of good practice in tackling the climate emergency, reversing ecological collapse and delivering a just transition. NEECCo does not undertake to quality assure these case studies, and inclusion of a case study on this website does not imply endorsement of the project by NEECCo or by its partners.

Some case studies will feature organisations who are involved in fossil fuel industries, or who are open to challenge on other aspects of their performance in relation to our objectives. NEECCo recognises that if we are to reach our ambitious objectives, all organisations and individuals within the north east will need to adapt their behaviour and actions. We want our case studies to encourage this process. Our commitment to achieving a just transition from a carbon-based economy to a green economy requires us to encourage positive steps wherever they are to be found. 

We are interested in your views on the case studies so please choose to like/ dislike each case study.