Establishing two community managed woodlands at Oxen Park and Bouth that provide materials for a variety of products including craft items and woodfuel.
The Share Wood project reached out to the local community and highlighted the need to manage and maintain this stunning, diverse and rich wooded environment.
Through education and sharing of knowledge during the Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership, community volunteers learnt about the positive relationship between people and their natural environment. By teaching practical management skills, community volunteers helped to restore coppices, improve the woods for wildlife, utilise harvested wood, and ensure woodland sustainability, whilst also providing social and general well-being benefits.
There are now two community woodland groups:
The members of both Share Wood groups managed their woodlands with the following priorities;
Local communities are under threat. There is a growing disconnect between people and the natural environment, farming and the landscape they live in. This is accompanied by an increased number of second home owners who are often away from the area and people living sedentary lifestyles. The long-established working relationship between people and nature is essential to the long-term sustainability of the tranquil, Rusland Horizons scheme area.
Woodlands in the area have been undermanaged. This has changed their character, resulting in even-aged stands of trees that would all reach maturity at the same time. This makes the woodland vulnerable in future when the trees age and begin to die. Habitat structure is also declining, leading to loss of species. Sudden losses can occur through strong winds or disease, threatening the future viability of the woodland.
We worked with local people to set up and coordinate community groups that can support future sustainability and management of woodlands in the area. By providing access to information, equipment, expertise and woodland sites we have increased the number of woodlands managed by communities.
The community has developed a better understanding of how land management decisions are made whilst improving their wildlife monitoring skills and awareness of biodiversity. They have been given the practical skills, and opportunity, to learn about local heritage and their surrounding landscapes. With an increased understanding of woodfuel practices within the community, this should hopefully now lead to a local, sustainable source of firewood.
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