WHO DID WE WORK WITH?
We surpassed our initial ambitions and were able to support 65 woodland enterprises - instead of our original goal of 50 - located across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
We worked with groups at various stages of development, all of whom were looking to undertake new activities to provide a range of benefits for local people, bring woodlands into active management and generate trading income. They all received support to realise their vision for their woodlands creating opportunities for jobs, leisure, and education, and to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.
Making Local Woods Work participant groups are shown by a green icon in the map below. Orange icons indicate other Woodland Social Enterprises around the country to illustrate the growing scale of the sector.
WHERE DID IT ALL START?
The initial idea for Making Local Woods Work, a pilot support programme for woodland social enterprises, started to be developed from the first meeting of what became the Woodland Social Enterprise Network in December 2012.
Three organisations called this meeting - Plunkett Foundation, Forestry Commission England and Hill Holt Wood. It was a gathering of those involved in forestry and woodland management, social enterprise and community ownership and management of assets. Its purpose was to discuss and agree a way forward for this group of interested parties to further social enterprise in and related woodlands.
The meeting agreed that there was the need for a project to support the development of social enterprise in woodlands. It agreed that this project needed to provide a range of support, flexible to meet the needs of groups seeking support. It also agreed that further meetings, where the grouping and others could share what they are doing and make progress together, were needed which were supported by Forestry Commission England. The Woodland Social Enterprise Network, and informal grouping of people interested in this work, grew to over 80 individuals and organisation who met and shared information.
Making Local Woods Work and how it would operate developed over time at and in between the gatherings and after three years, the project was launched in September 2015. The Woodland Social Enterprise Network lives on through the project, both through the project steering group and the activities of the project.