EiF Community Forestry Award
Community Forestry Award winners 2012
This Award encourages and reward projects involving community woodlands and forests which have been established and managed in a way that is sustainable and beneficial to the landscape, the local people, biodiversity and the economy in both the short and long term.
- 1st: The Friends of Oakfrith Wood, Devizes, Wiltshire
RFS Gloucestershire Division chairman John Ducker, left, presents the RFS Community Woodlands Award 2012 to Peter Newell from Friends of Oakfrith Wood.
The judges said: “The Friends of Oakfrith Wood described themselves as ‘a vibrant group of people who are passionate about the wood and are wholly committed to preserving its long term future’.
“Everything we saw and heard during our visit backed up this statement. It was a pleasure to see a woodland being managed in a thoroughly professional manner by a community that is prepared to put in a great deal of effort in order to meet the objectives of management that they have set themselves.”
The Friends of Oakfrith Wood was formed in 1994 and set about producing a long-term management plan and developing the 14-hectare woodland as a community wood and local nature reserve. The wood had originally formed part of the Urchfont Manor Estate and is now owned by Wiltshire Council.
With professional guidance, the Friends have maintained public access and managed the woodland through a programme of thinnings, plantings, and the development of a pond area.
Local people have taken part in regular working parties, nest box monitoring, construction of paths, production of leaflets and information boards, felling of softwoods and replanting with native species. Local schools and groups have used the area for educational activities.
Friends and Trustees, Ian Maidment and Peter Newell say: “Winning this Award is a real boost for so many people who have volunteered during the past 18 years and unselfishly given so much of their time, not only in weekly working parties, but in all the time taken in training and learning new skills.
“Local people very much regard this as their woodland and it has become much loved in the area, with people enjoying its tranquillity and wildlife.”
- 2nd Neroche Partnership, near Taunton, Somerset
RFS Gloucestershire Division chairman John Ducker, left, presents the RFS Community Woodlands Award 2012, silver, to Jenny Archer and Gavin Saunders of the Neroche Partnership, near Taunton.
The judges said: “The Forestry Commission has led a partnership to transform a previously under-managed area into one where local people feel a sense of involvement and genuine ownership… The level of financial support illustrates the importance attached to this development.”
The area entered for this award is called Wych Woods, at Staple Fitzpaine, near Taunton, Somerset, part of Neroche Forest. From 2006 to 2011 the forest formed part of The Neroche Landscape Partnership Scheme, supported by £3,000,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other partners.
Wych Woods consists of semi-natural oak and ash, conifer plantations on ancient woodland sites, a former deer park and a series of open butterfly glades. A large network of volunteers regularly work in the forest. Various events have been attended by hundreds of children, adults and families. Forest school sessions, bushcraft, green woodworking, wildlife study, and healthy walks have all been on offer.
A new Community Woodland site called Young Wood with a permanent “woodland workshop” including a composting toilet is under development.
Gavin Saunders, Neroche Project Manager with the Forestry Commission said: “Thanks to the support of local people we have made huge progress over the past five years in enabling the Neroche Forest to fulfil its potential as a place which can have a transformative impact on people’s lives, while also being a productive source of timber and a rich habitat for wildlife. This award helps renew our enthusiasm to continue demonstrating how community engagement and multi-purpose forestry are natural partners”.
- Commended: Broadford Arboretum, Newent Town Council, Gloucestershire
RFS Gloucestershire Division chairman John Ducker, left, presents the RFS Community Woodlands Award 2012, commended, to Barrie Wellington for Newent Town Council’s Broadford Arboretum.
The judges said: “The quality and layout of the planting is an example that others would do well to seek to emulate. The choice of species was excellent and the subsequent management first class.”
Broadford Arboretum was developed after the town council asked residents how they would like to commemorate the Millennium in 2000. Creation of an arboretum/woodland on land already owned by the council was the most popular response.
With the help of local councillor and nurseryman Barrie Wellington the woodland was planned and planted. It is now enjoyed by local people who in return carry out many volunteer duties.
Its woodland paths attract a wide range of walkers and groups, including local schools and brownies and cubs. Seats, picnic tables and benches are all provided and bird nesting boxes made by a local volunteer are adding – with 13 species of birds recorded, and a ‘butterfly glade’ attracting butterflies and moths.
Barrie Wellington said: “I hope the local school children who were involved in the initial planting of the arboretum in 2000 realise as they grow older that they have a place in Newent’s history and perhaps in years to come will want to return for a walk in their wood with their children.”