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In 2014 the National Forest Company set in motion an initiative to manage the developing woodlands using volunteers to carry out woodland management. After 15 years of growth a large swathe of woodlands are ready for first thinnings, this is the opportunity that Heartwood Community Woodfuel Group is evolving into.

From early pilot sessions and leadership from within the National Forest “Black to Green” project, the group has grown into a 90 strong team of volunteers. The Making Local Woods Work project has been a key partner in developing skills, providing training and giving consultation for the group leaders to ensure an entreprise structure is put in place and suits the needs of the group. The 2017/18 felling season saw Heartwood plan and lead the entire winter programme of felling within two woodlands – one owned by the Woodland Trust, the other by Leicestershire County Council. Both partners providing vital support and resource.

Heartwood members work on a “logs for labour” basis, felling and processing the thinnings and taking a boot-full of logs home for their efforts.

The strategic direction of the group is aligned to that of the National Forest, with expansion plans being created which will realise the ambitions of the National Forest to bring more and more of their woodlands into management using volunteer resource.  A five year plan is also being negotiated with the Woodland Trust to secure management of a number of woodlands within the National Forest owned by the trust.

All of this will mean significant growth for the group over the coming years, giving opportunities for volunteers to spend more and more productive time in the woods, fueling their log burners and their souls with all the good things being in the woods means to us. If you are interested in the group please visit their webpage here or contact them on

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