What is DerwentWISE?
DerwentWISE was a group of organisations who collectively had a vision:
“A future where the landscape of the Lower Derwent Valley is valued as much for its natural and cultural heritage as for its beauty, and where local people have the knowledge and skills to look after it for future generations to enjoy.”
What did DerwentWISE do?
From July 2014 to March 2019 they worked in the Lower Derwent Valley to improve and restore the landscape, and inspire people about the natural and cultural heritage in the area.
For example, they trained hundreds of volunteers to go out and survey heritage features and many others to carry out practical conservation work. Working with the volunteers they were able to improve woodlands including ancient woodlands, plant meadows and update the Historic Environment Records (HER). They made traditional land management skills available and affordable and awarded grants for people to make their own land or habitat improvements. They improved access and interpretation across the valley and trained staff who can consider accessibility needs on their sites. They worked with schools to recreate mini habitats, mirroring the ones they would find in the Lower Derwent Valley, in their playgrounds. They also got creative and arty with schools and community groups to encourage them to learn about the landscape, heritage and wildlife in the area.
Where is the Lower Derwent Valley and why is it so special?
The Lower Derwent Valley is located pretty much in the middle of Derbyshire. It is the area that runs along the River Derwent between Matlock Bath and the top of Derby City. It is roughly the area that surrounds the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
The area is special because of its internationally important ancient woodlands, pre-industrial archaeology, diverse geology or species-rich meadows. Not to mention the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, birthplace of the factory system and world as we know it today.
Who were DerwentWISE?
DerwentWISE was more formally known as the Lower Derwent Valley Landscape Partnership. The partnership was made up of fifteen local and national organisations who care about the Lower Derwent Valley.
Organisations in the partnership included:
The partnership was chaired by Annie Bird and hosted by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust so the scheme office staff were based at their offices up in Middleton by Wirksworth.
£2.5 million! – Who paid for that?
In September 2013 the partnership was awarded £1.7 million of Heritage Lottery Funds (now known as the National Lottery Heritage Fund) so that DerwentWISE could begin. The NLHF has been supporting living landscape and heritage projects since 1994. They are the largest dedicated funder of heritage in the UK. The rest of the funds were sourced through the partner organisations.
Pre DerwentWISE, the partnership carried out extensive consultation with local people, businesses and communities in the Lower Derwent Valley.
The majority of the application was based on the Landscape Conservation Action Plan (LCAP). This is an all embracing document which analyses the landscape, assesses the problems and makes a case for investing in an area which we all know as very special indeed.