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Alan Dyer is a member of Axewoods Co-operative, a social enterprise working woodlands in East Devon to produce woodfuel, improve woodland craft skills and make strong connections to the local community through membership.

Alan was amongst representatives from seven woodland social enterprises from across the South West of England who were hosted by the Neroche Woodlanders at Young Wood in mid-September. It was an opportunity for Making Local Woods Work groups in the region to meet and learn from each other, and ask questions about the wider programme of Dave Dixon (NAAONB) and Norman Dandy (Plunkett Foundation).

“Any conference, workshop, or event that starts with freshly brewed fair-trade coffee, home baked flapjack, a roaring campfire and a choice of biscuits just has to be a success!  So huge thanks to Neroche Woodlanders for hosting this first gathering of Making Local Woods Workers in the South West. Even us locals were challenged to find their lovely secluded site on the Blackdown Hills – but it was certainly worth the adventure.

“We were all looking forward to meeting up and focussing on how we can share ideas, resources and the opportunities offered by Making Local Woods Work – so an immediate start was made in a relaxed facilitated session around the fire circle.  Norman Dandy and Dave Dixon (our local co-ordinator) were on hand to explain what the Plunkett Foundation can (and can’t!) do. Then it was over to Gavin and Jenny to share their site, serve an amazing lunch and have “…a chance to rest brains and mess about with wood, cloth and fire.”  Brilliant.

“More discussion round the fire – and you guessed it – homemade cake and tea!  We left enthused to do more together, inspired by the programmes and activities offered at Neroche, full of tasty, local food and a real determination to make this a great wooding season working together.”

About Neroche Woodlanders


Neroche Woodlanders Ltd is a social enterprise, registered as a Community Benefit Society. In their own words:


“We represent a community partnership between local people and independent practitioners, based in the public forest. We are negotiating with the Forestry Commission to take a lease over our premises within Young Wood, together with a right to inhabit, manage and harvest wood from 100 acres of surrounding woodland.

“Neroche Woodlanders has a shareholding membership currently standing at just under 50, with day-to-day business governed by a Board of Directors, currently comprised of Jenny Archard, Gavin Saunders and Rachel Wootton.  Our activities are delivered through a core team of practitioners, supported by a dedicated group of volunteers.

“Young Wood is a 100 acre swathe of luxurious forest, set within the Forestry Commission’s wider 1,000 hectare Neroche Forest estate.  Young Wood offers a microcosm of the wider Forest, with a diverse mixture of mature oak and ash woodland with gnarled old field maples and rare wild service trees, patches of hazel coppice, a wild stream valley, beech and pine plantation, and areas of spruce and hemlock.  It supports a wide variety of plants and animals, including butterfly orchids and twayblades, and nearly 100 different species of butterfly and moth.”

To find out more about Neroche Woodlanders, visit their website:

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