Woodland Trust offers funding to nurture new woodland lovers
March 2, 2016
Communities across the North of England are being offered funding from a £170,000 pot to manage and own their local woods. The new pilot launched by the Woodland Trust is an attempt support the work of existing organisations to increase the tiny level of woodland currently in community ownership.
Research suggests just 0.2% (4,711 hectares) of woodland in the UK is owned by community groups, but also that the proportion of woodland in community
ownership is much lower than elsewhere in Europe. The Trust, supported by lead project partner Nationwide Building Society, has a target of working with 50 communities before the end of the pilot to either establish groups or enable
them to take ownership of woodland.
The Trust is offering start-up grants of £500 to new groups in the pilot region, with established groups looking to take on some form of woodland ownership being eligible to apply for a grant of up to £10,000. The charity will also hold a number of training events to help communities build management and engagement skills and has launched a website which provides information and resources for anyone to find out how to set up a group to help manage or acquire an area of woodland.
Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust chief executive, said: “Trees and woods have so many benefits for society but we’re becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world. By providing resources and funding we can try and halt this worrying trend, helping people who are passionate about their local woods take an active role in the care and management of them.”
One group which has been established for four years is the Friends of Spud Wood (FoSW), based near Lymm in Cheshire. FoSW was established to help maintain the wood, planted by the local community and create a sustainable source of woodfuel. The group now has over 30 regulars and has even piloted a woodland allotment.
Jo Yellen from Friends of Spud Wood, said: “As there wasn’t a group
originally, with the support of the Woodland Trust, we began gradually to
create one. Though initially hesitant we have created a small, but active
group. It’s very rewarding to be out working with the group and to see what our
combined energy can do.”
Nationwide is pledging over £1.25 million to support the Woodland Trust’s community woodland pilot and wider tree planting across the UK. As well as this it will be inspiring, motivating and supporting communities to create, manage, and
own their local woods.
Stephen Uden, Nationwide’s Head of Citizenship, added: “Nationwide has long supported a range of community groups and organisations as part of our Living our Your Side strategy and we see woodland use as an important, constructive and healthy way to help bring people together. By providing community groups with the financial and practical support they need to plant, manage and take ownership of new woodland spaces, we hope to be able to spark a woodland revolution that will benefit people now and long into the future.”
Nationwide is partnering with the Woodland Trust as part of the Society’s commitment to invest £15m into local communities by 2017 and plant 60,000 trees for each current and future employee and customers that have signed up to receive correspondence electronically.
The pilot is being launched as the Trust and over 40 other organisations look to create a new movement for woods and trees in the form of The Charter for Trees, Woods and People. For more information about the pilot and how to apply for the grants visit www.communitywoodland.org