The National Forest Company and the RCC are collaborating to create ten new community woodlands across the National Forest.
Supported by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project is working with communities to create new community woodlands in their area.
The National Forest aspires for everyone to have access to a woodland within walking distance of their home. This project supports this aspiration by identifying the parishes that currently lack access to woodlands. Communities that are ‘hard-to-reach’ are being prioritised and engaged first, increasing the range of audiences that connect with woodland settings. Further collaboration with the support of a woodland design expert will empower these communities to take ownership of the new woodlands created as part of the project. Each woodland will be designed with the needs of the community in mind, creating a safe and accessible space for individuals who would benefit from more time spent in nature to promote better health and wellbeing. Local school children will be included in the design and planting phases of woodland development to encourage them to use these woodlands throughout their lives.
Ten new community-led groups will also be created to care for and manage these new woodlands in the future. These groups will join the existing Community Woods Network to receive continued support as they grow and develop. Training opportunities will also be made available through the project in both practical skills, such as chainsaw and brush cutter use, and in soft skills, such as social media and website use to help new groups to grow. A leadership development programme will also be developed, supporting new and existing woodland community groups to increase their leadership capabilities, ensuring that they are able to run sustainably beyond the scope of the project.