Community Woodlands in Wales
Woodlands have always been part of our communities in Wales; the source of fuel for our hearths, fodder for our animals, timber to build our homes, a space for our children to play and learn, and a source of medicine and food to nourish our family and friends. With modern life this connection has faded, our woodland area diminished and our access curtailed.
Over the last twenty years there has been a growing movement of individuals and groups reconnecting communities with their woodlands. These special woodlands are called Community Woodlands and they are usually managed by a Community Woodland Group.
If you visit a woodland managed by a community group it feels different. This is because the focus is on generating multiple benefits for the community and taking care of the woodland for future generations.
So what exactly is a community woodland? Ask ten people and you’ll get ten different answers!
A Community Woodland is any woodland where the local community has some degree of control over how it is run or managed. Some or all of the objectives of managing the woodland are written by a group of local people with a passionate interest in it and the benefits arising from the management of the woodlands are shared.
Community Woodlands come in all shapes and sizes; from conifer plantations to ancient natural broadleaf wood, from a few acres to several hundred, in rural or urban areas. Community woodland groups can take many different forms. There is really no fixed definition of how a Community Woodland should be run or managed – other than that it should be fit for purpose for what that group wants to achieve.
The woodland may be owned or leased by the community group, or it may be managed in partnership with another organisation (usually the landowner) through a management agreement.
Community Woodland Groups can constitute themselves in different ways; as Co-operatives, as Community Interest Companies, as Charities, as Social Enterprises or as simple Constituted Voluntary Groups.
Managing a woodland for the benefit of your community can be very rewarding – to see a neglected woodland come back to life and be used and appreciated by many people is wonderful, but it can also be quite a daunting undertaking – there is a lot to learn and a lot of effort to put in.
Llais y Goedwig is here to support each members’ journey. We have the knowledge, contacts and enthusiasm to help you along the way!
Each community woodland group is unique
Each community woodland group emerges from its own unique set of circumstances, reflecting the local woodland, the individuals involved, local concerns and opportunities. Some of the commonest reasons for taking on a woodland are:
- A wish to see local woodlands managed differently
- A common interest or passion for the environment or for a sustainable way of life
- A threat to the local woodland
- A desire to set up a new facility for local activities
- An opportunity created by grant funding may trigger a community to set up a group
- Inspiration from an existing group
The community woodland movement is growing in Wales !
Visit the Resources section of the website for a detailed picture of the development of community woodlands in Wales, as well as a series of Llais y Goedwig publications such as advisory notes and case studies written by Llais y Goedwig members.