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News | [The Guardian] How co-operatives and social enterprises are changing the future of woodland

Monday 15 December 2014

With some councils struggling to manage woodland, community enterprises are protecting, nurturing and releasing the value in these important spaces.

[The Guardian] How co-operatives and social enterprises are changing the future of woodland ScaricaAlta definizione

Rain is hammering down in North Dean Wood, one of the biggest areas of woodland in Calderdale, West Yorkshire. It's filled with birdsong and, where a small area of birch and oak has recently been coppiced, a swathe of bluebells is blooming under the newly opened woodland canopy.

"When you cut down trees to ground level you get incredibly vigorous regrowth which then provides a sustainable supply of timber for a range of products. Plus, by opening up the woodland to increased light you encourage wildlife to move in," says Keith Wilson from Blackbark Woodland Management, explaining the ancient art of coppicing.

Wilson is a founding member of the woodland coop, which launched three years ago. It's one of a growing number of social enterprises now engaged in woodland management.

"There are currently about 100 community-based and social enterpriserun woodlands," says Mike Perry, head of policy development at the Plunkett Foundation, which hosts the Woodland Social Enterprise Network.

The network was created in 2013 as a response to government attempts to sell sections of public woodland to private companies. In the end, a petition signed by 500,000 people saw a change of heart by government. But Plunkett and other supporters of community woodland decided that social enterprise could have more of a presence. He says network members and social enterprises in general have since been recognised by government and the Forestry Commission for the value they can add.

See the full article at this link.