Urban & Community Forestry
This Award encourages and rewards projects involving urban and community woodlands which are managed in a way which is sustainable and beneficial to the landscape, the local people, biodiversity and the economy in both the short and long term.
2016 award winners were: Gold: Churwell Environmental Volunteers for the 3.8ha Clarksprings and Daffil Woods owned by Leeds City Council. Silver: Bramhall and Carr Wood, owned by Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council. More details below:
The 4ha woodland has two distinct biodiversity areas - just under 2ha of Semi Natural Woodland
|Janet Harrison and Dilys Hetherington from Churwell Environmental Volunteers collect gold from David Carter, RFS Yorkshire Division Chairman, with judge Trefor Thompson, left|
(SNW) with many features of Ancient SNW and 2ha with newly planted broadleaved woods and further small pockets of SNW. It is surrounded by housing built in the 1990s.
The woodland is managed by Churwell Environmental Volunteers (CEV) in conjunction with Leeds City Council Parks & Countryside (Forestry Section). A 20-year management plan was written in 2003 and its connecting green corridors have become a much valued and loved by the local community.
CEV was formed in 2008 and launched at an Action Day clean-up project visited by the BBC Spring Watch team. It meets every Thursday and Saturday with 16 or more volunteers (aged 15 to 75) attending.The group holds regular events, has built a Miniature Gauge Railway through the woodland and raised sponsorship from local business and public donation.
CEV has working partners in Leeds and Morley Councils who have funded many of the projects.
What the judges said: "CEV is one of the most impressive and effective voluntary organisations we have ever encountered. In a relatively short space of time they have successfully turned the fortunes of the area around and created a much valued and important asset in this densely populated area ... The Group know exactly what they are doing, understand ecological principles, are willing to take professional advice and above all know how to inspire, enthuse, involve and include the local residents."
What the winners said: "The time given freely by our volunteers and the massive support received from the local community and councils has made our work possible. Hopefully, we have proved community led partnerships can bring benefit, not only to the local environment, but to the residents and wildlife within it. This award will no doubt inspire our enthusiasm towards building a legacy for those to come," Group Founder, Janet Harrison.
Bramhall and Carr Woods comprise 32ha broadleaved semi-natural woodland, much of which is
|Jim McGarrie from Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, right, receives the silver award from David Carter, Chairman of RFS Yorkshire Division, with judge Trefor Thompson, left|
ancient woodland. The woodland forms part of Bramall Park and is designated as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and Site of Biological Importance (SBI).
Management is undertaken by a partnership between an active volunteer group (Friends of Bramhall Park) and the Greenspace team within Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC).The overarching management aims for the site are to enhance the nature conservation and encourage park users to engage with its habitats and wildlife.
Recent woodland improvement works have included the removal of regenerating non-native and invasive species to help provide a diverse age structure within the woodland and encourage more native species to grow.
Bramhall Park is an integral link to habitats within the wider landscape, such as the neighbouring Happy Valley LNR and Ladybrook Trail. A £1.6 million Heritage Lottery Fund is helping fund repairs and improve Bramall Hall and restore and transform the grounds
What the judges said: "The Council has deployed its considerable expertise in preparing and implementing proper management plans and policies for the site and as such has achieved an outstanding balance between maintaining biodiversity and catering for the diverse needs and aspirations of the site’s many and varied users which are estimated to exceed 150,000 per year.
What the winners said: “This reflects the hard work put in by local volunteers and the Council’s Greenspace Team who manage the site. The Council remain committed to providing high quality parks and woodlands for Stockport residents and visitors to enjoy. To do this we work closely community organisations and volunteers and awards such as this provide confirmation that our approach is a successful one,” Councillor Sheila Bailey, Stockport Council’s Executive Member for Communities and Housing.