We're offering communities across the North of England the opportunity to apply for grants from a £170,000 pot to manage and own their local woods, thanks to support from Nationwide Building Society.
Research suggests just 0.2% (4,711 hectares) of woodland in the UK is owned by community groups, but also that the proportion of woodland in community ownership is much lower than elsewhere in Europe.
"Trees and woods have so many benefits for society but we’re becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world." Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust Chief Executive
We are offering start-up grants of £500 to new groups in the North of England pilot region, with established groups eligible to apply for a grant of up to £10,000 to take on some form of woodland ownership. We have set the target of working with 50 communities in the pilot region before the end of the pilot next year to either establish groups or enable them to take ownership of woodland.
We will hold a number of training events to help communities in the North of England build management and engagement skills and have launched the Community Woodland network to help provide information and resources for all new community groups across the UK.
Our Chief Executive, Beccy Speight, said:
"By providing resources and funding, we can try and halt this worrying trend, and help people who are passionate about their local woods to take an active role in the care and management of them."
Nationwide is pledging over £1.25 million to support the Woodland Trust’s community woodland pilot and wider tree planting across the UK. As well as this it will be inspiring, motivating and supporting communities to create, manage, and own their local woods.
Stephen Uden, Nationwide’s Head of Citizenship, added:
"Nationwide has long supported a range of community groups and organisations as part of our Living On Your Side strategy and we see woodland use as an important, constructive and healthy way to help bring people together.
"By providing community groups with the financial and practical support they need to plant, manage and take ownership of new woodland spaces, we hope to be able to spark a woodland revolution that will benefit people now and long into the future."
Nationwide is partnering with us as part of its commitment to invest £15m into local communities by 2017 and plant 60,000 trees for each current and future employee, as well as customers who have signed up to receive further news.
Friends of Spud Wood
One group which has been established for four years is the Friends of Spud Wood, based near Lymm in Cheshire.
Friends of Spud Wood was established to help maintain the wood, planted by the local community and create a sustainable source of woodfuel. The group now has over 30 regulars and has even piloted a woodland allotment.
Jo Yellen from Friends of Spud Wood, said:
"As there wasn’t a group originally, with the support of the Woodland Trust, we gradually began to create one. Though initially hesitant, we have created a small but active group. It’s rewarding to be out working with the group and to see what our combined energy can do."