Lancaster University

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New Director for Uplands Centre

05/14/2004 11:28:36

Kit Nicholson has been appointed Director of the International Centre for the Uplands - Cumbria. He and his team, who are part of the University's Geography Department within IENS, will be based at Hackthorpe Hall near Penrith.

The Centre, officially launched on Thursday, May 27, in Kendal, will address the long term health and economic success of parts of Cumbria and will have a strong international element to its work, an aspect which the new director believes to be invaluable having himself spent 25 years working in rural development overseas and in Europe.

The Centre combines funding from three agencies: Cumbria County Council, Rural Regeneration Cumbria - supported by the Northwest Development Agency - and the Lake District National Park Authority and is led by Lancaster University.

Partners in the Centre include the University of Central Lancashire, Voluntary Action Cumbria, and the Banff Centre for Mountain Culture and a dozen other local, national and international organisations. It will bring together research and practice in areas as diverse as the environment, upland economies, farming, outdoor activities, skills development, heritage, culture and tourism.

Kit Nicholson said: "Uplands play an important and distinctive role in cultures all over the world. They have often provided inspiration for formative artistic and spiritual movements. And yet, few people in our modern world really engage with the uplands, local communities are under pressure and public policies often pull in disjointed directions.

"The Centre is a pioneering venture to help affirm the importance of the uplands and the benefits which society seeks from them. Building on this vision, the Centre will provide rigorous independent evaluation to help communities and agencies improve the public policies and programmes which affect the uplands. The topics for research will be decided after county-wide consultation, but possible projects might be: to analyse better ways of paying farmers to manage the environment; to manage upland erosion more efficiently; and to understand the strengths and vulnerabilities of village communities.”

There will be opportunities for colleagues across the University to become involved in the Centre's work. In particular, the Centre is building a long list of research opportunities, from which to select this year's work programme.