A Land and Nature Skills Service (LANSS) for Cumbria

Local leaders in education, business, farming and wildlife conservation are delighted to announce a Land and Nature Skills Service for Cumbria with major grants from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme.

The goal is to improve access to learning and training for farming, forestry and environmental jobs in the county. The Service will also support existing businesses enhance skills to adapt to changing demands. The challenges and opportunities for our County include securing sustainable food production, adapting to the changing climate and nature recovery.

Dr Helen Manns from the University of Cumbria explained; “The Land and Nature Skills Service, or LANSS, has been designed in collaboration with over fifty organisations prompted in part by the loss of Newton Rigg, Cumbria’s former specialist further education college for the land-based sector.”

Over 70% of Cumbria’s land is farmed; Adam Day of the Farmer Network said; “The Farmer Network is keen to support LANSS to ensure that there are opportunities for all to work in the countryside, and that a broad and balanced range of skills and knowledge can be accessed to benefit farming and nature together.”

Steve Trotter of Cumbria Wildlife Trust said: “This is a very exciting and important initiative for Cumbria: helping to train and develop Cumbria’s farmers and land managers in the broad range of skills they will need in future is going to be vital to sustain a vibrant rural economy and a healthy natural environment.”

The new service is not a training provider itself, rather a hub linking learners, training providers and businesses and reaching out to young people and businesses . It will have three staff members employed by the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and based at the University of Cumbria’s Ambleside campus.

Suzanne Caldwell, MD of the Cumbria Chamber explained their involvement; “We urgently need this co-ordinated service to support skills development. Skills underpin a thriving land based economy and our local businesses. The Chamber are therefore delighted to be the accountable body for the partnership running LANSS.”

In addition to the University and Chamber the governing board running LANSS includes Cumbria Wildlife Trust, The Farmer Network, Westmorland & Furness Council, Cumberland Council and the North Pennines Natural Landscape.

Julia Aglionby, Professor in Practice at the University of Cumbria and Commissioner of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission has been involved from the start. “What is so important is we have local leaders from farming, conservation, education and local government all pulling together. The LANSS is a home grown service for Cumbria – to give opportunities to all and so drive forward our future economic and social well-being from Cumbria’s stunning and much valued land, nature and people.

Planning for the service was coordinated by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission over the last three years. Additional funding has come from the Department for Education, Westmorland and Furness Council’s Climate and Nature Partnership Fund and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership we are now ready to start work. Match-funding has also been pledged by the Governing Board and Steering Group members meaning the Land and Nature Skills Service means will be free to all.

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce