Good Woods shortlisted for responsible business award

posted on July 21, 2014


Good Woods - for people, for nature

Good Woods – for people, for nature

Good Woods has been nominated in the Best Business/NGO Partnership category at The 5th Annual Responsible Business Awards.

This award goes to the best sustainability/corporate responsibility partnership between a company and other entities (i.e. NGOs, governmental body, charity or other non-profit organizations). The winner will have shown clear commitment to a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership that can demonstrate real social/environmental/governance gains for society.

Good Woods is a partnership between B&Q’s One Planet Home, BioRegional and the Sylva Foundation. In its inaugural year Good Woods provided professional forestry advice and support for 235 woodlands across the South East and East of England.

To deliver this professional forestry support to woodlands owners and managers the partnership developed a network which included: local forestry professionals, woodland management charities, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, environmental charities and Wildlife Trusts. Additionally Good Woods worked closely with Forestry Commission England, which provided general support and technical guidance.

This welcome news comes as Good Woods is preparing to start a further phase elsewhere in Britain. Details of this phase of Good Woods will follow in coming weeks.

This Responsible Business Excellence Celebration is organised by the Ethical Corporation and is to be held on September 29th 2014 in London. Read more


Comments (0)

Stakeholder and Community Engagement Guide published

posted on July 2, 2014
Stakeholder & Community Engagement

Stakeholder & Community Engagement

Engaging with stakeholders and your community can be a very important part of woodland management, both in the planning and operational stages.  As part of the Good Woods project we have updated the Community Engagement Toolkit (first published in 2011).

The new guide,  Stakeholder and Community Engagement – A guide for woodland owners and managers in England, reflects changes to the UK Forestry Standard and other developments in forestry and technology.

The guide is aimed at woodland owners, managers and workers and is designed to help communicate the reasons and benefits of woodland management to the general public. It provides suggestions and guidance to help relate woodland plans to the wider community.

To find out more and download the guide click here

Comments (0)

Good Woods project celebrated in film

posted on March 28, 2014

To mark the end of the first year of the Good Woods Project the partners have released a film highlighting the achievements of the project in its inaugural year.

The Good Woods project, launched in January 2013, resulted from a partnership between Sylva Foundation, leading home improvement and garden centre retailer B&Q, and sustainability charity BioRegional. The project aimed to improve the environmental, social, and economic values of woodlands.

BioRegional and Sylva worked with Lantern, sustainability consultants, to establish and support a network of organisations and advisors which included: Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; Wildlife Trusts; Woodland charities; and professional foresters. We are very grateful for the hardwork and dedication by all.


Over the last year the Good Woods project team has been working to improve the levels of woodland stewardship in the South East and East of England.

Key achievements to date:

  • Supported 235 land owners and managers, caring for 10,900 ha of woodland, with tools and training in woodland management, linked to the freely available myForest service;
  • Developed the new Woodland Star Rating to encourage and communicate the benefits of sustainable forest management in woodlands, and help demonstrate what good woodland stewardship means to the general public;
  • Provided training in woodland management and community engagement to 20 community groups.
  • Worked with B&Q and its suppliers to better understand the barriers and opportunities to source more sustainably produced timber from UK woodlands.
  • Developed a Stakeholder and Community Engagement Guide – to help woodland owners and managers communicate forestry activities to the public (to be published shortly).
  • Created a Woodland Producer’s Pack to assist woodland owners in assessing their woodland for the full range of forestry products (to be published shortly).

Moving Forward

Good Woods provides a model for providing support in Sustainable Forest Management to owners and managers of UK woodlands. This approach is coupled with a vision for strengthening the national supply chain to bringing more responsibly produced, home-grown timber into our homes and workplaces.

The project partners are currently planning the next phases of Good Woods and we will provide updates in the coming months.

Good Woods - for people, for nature

Visit the Good Woods web page

The Good Woods project is breathing new life into UK woodlands. The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—aims to revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits.

Comments (2)

Good Woods supports PAWS restoration

posted on November 29, 2013

Jude Hassall from Lantern visited Jane Devlin’s woodland near Grayswood, Surrey as part of the Good Woods project. Jane and her husband have owned the  woodland for a year now, and the management plan is to be submitted to the Forestry Commission shortly, so they were delighted to have received expert advice from Sylva and the Good Woods project to help shape the plan. Laurence Crow was on hand as the Good Woods advisor to give Jane some help to shape the vision she has for the wood.

The site is a PAWS  (Planted Ancient Woodland Site) that Jane is keen to restore to a mixed deciduous native woodland – or at least start the long haul to transform it. It is an undulating site, steep in parts, with some challenges in terms of ongoing management access and extraction of standing timber. The conifers are a mix of Larch, Norway Spruce and Western Hemlock.  The plantation is overstood and many trees will need harvesting in the next few years. In a way this is good news, since there is potential for some income that will be used to implement the management plan.

Evidence can be seen within the woodland of its original composition with some majestic oaks struggling for space within the dense conifer plantation. Several large trees,  future veterans, grow along the margins of the wood, while occasional stumps of former oak, ash and beech trees remain throughout. During the visit it was clear to see where Jane had begun working to remove some of the dead or dangerous trees. Clearings created by wind-blown trees showed how opening the canopy had created an opportunity for native self-sown trees, with beech, hawthorn and hazel doing particularly well.

Some mysterious pits within the woodland were spotted that were thought to be evidence of ironstone ‘scrapings’ at some point in its past, which will now be noted down and the best examples protected during the coming work.

Laurence was able to give detailed advice on how to enhance the habitat around the stream that runs through the woodland at the bottom of a steep escarpment through the creation of scallop bays. This will allow greater levels of ground cover and woodland plants to emerge.

The owner was keen to begin get her management plan approved and to begin restoration work in the woodland. Jane already has local volunteers who wish to work in the woodland and help with the restoration and will reward them with firewood under a ‘logs for labour’ model.

There are other activities planned too: Jane and her husband have an adventure race called “Run-Forest-Run” ( The test event is in November 2013, with the first  open event in March 2014.)

Eventually, through a combination of felling and thinning, space will be made within the woodland for a reintroduction of local species back to the site. Jane is really keen to get going with the work and thanks to the help from Good Woods will be polishing off her plan and starting work as soon as she receives approval.

Good Woods - for people, for nature

Visit the Good Woods web page

The Good Woods project is a novel project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands. The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—will revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits. For more information contact Amy Hammond:

Comments (0)

Community Woodlands Workshop

posted on November 14, 2013

The first of two practical workshops took place last Saturday, at East Horsley in Surrey, on woodland management planning and community engagement for people involved in community-owned and -managed woodlands.  Part of the Good Woods project, the workshop was designed to support community woodland groups in undertaking effective stewardship of their woodlands.

In the morning session, Paul Orsi (Sylva Foundation) spoke to the group about how to develop a vision for their woodland and how they could use the Woodland Star Rating to measure the level of woodland management that they are practising based on the UK Forestry Standard.  Matthew Woodcock (Forestry Commission) gave an update on grants available through the Forestry Commission as well as information of the range of pests and diseases currently affecting our trees.  Amy Hammond (Lantern) explained the importance of actively engaging with stakeholders in the community surrounding a woodland and highlighted the Community Engagement Toolkit which has been designed to help woodland owners and managers through this process.  The last presentation of the morning came from Jon Whitehead who is part of a volunteer group which helps to look after the gardens and woodlands in Nonsuch Park (Surrey).  Jon described the group’s experiences in setting up a new volunteering group and how they engage with people using the woodland.

The afternoon session was out in the woods where Paul and Matthew gave a practical demonstration on how to interpret your woodland and carry out a basic woodland inventory.

The second of these workshops is being held at Marston Vale Forest Centre, Bedfordshire on Saturday 23rd November 2013, 9.30am to 3.30pm where lunch and refreshments will be provided.  To register for your free place at one of these events by emailing

Good Woods - for people, for nature

Visit the Good Woods web page

The Good Woods project is a novel project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands. The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—will revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits. For more information contact Amy Hammond:

Comments (0)

Good Woods passes its first century during Grown in Britain week

posted on October 17, 2013

As the end of Grown in Britain week nears, the team behind the Good Woods project announces that over 100 woodlands, covering an area of under-managed woodland the size of 13,000 football pitches, has been supported.

Good Woods is a pioneering joint initiative between DIY retailer B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation, supported by Lantern. Together they are:

  • Providing professional forestry advice and woodland planning tools to owners of under-managed woods across the south East and East of England
  • Strengthening links between communities and woodlands by communicating the benefits of working woodlands to society
  • Aiming to improve the markets for woodland products so that forestry can further contribute to the growth of the green economy

Good Woods is making a strong contribution to Grown in Britain – a new, Government-backed initiative to help Britain further understand and value our nation’s trees and woodlands. Grown in Britain aims to create a strong wood culture by providing more jobs in the forestry sector, improving woodland habitats for nature and creating more places for people to exercise and enjoy the countryside. It is now widely considered that this multi-purpose approach is essential for creating a sustainable future for Britain’s woodlands.

Some images showing the work of Good Woods during 2013

Sue Riddlestone, Chief Executive of BioRegional, said: “Good Woods is all about a better future for our woodlands. We want local people to enjoy them, wildlife to thrive in them, masses of carbon to be stored in them and for these woods to produce more useful products, helping the bottom line of Great Britain plc.”

Alistair Yeomans Chief Operating Officer of the Sylva Foundation, said: “Through Good Woods we are providing direct support to owners and managers of woodland. We are working with local land stewardship organisations to link local forestry professionals with woodland owners. We believe that focussing support to bring woodlands back into a good ecological and economic condition lays a strong foundation for a thriving ‘wood culture’.”

Key to the success of Good Woods to date has been identifying existing stakeholders with the necessary local knowledge to identify woodland owners in need of support, then providing them with woodland management resources. Working with a network of organisations ranging from Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to Wildlife Trusts has been central to Good Woods’ inclusive ethos.

Through this network, Good Woods has now signed up over 100 woodlands in the south east and east of England covering 7,800 hectares and provided advice based on the UK Forestry Standard. The UKFS sets out the approach of the UK governments to sustainable forest management.

The Forestry Commission has already started to feel the positive effect by confirming that it has received several management plan applications following Good Woods visits to woodlands.

Sonia Hutton-Taylor, whose four hectare woodland in the South East of England has benefited from a Good Woods visit, said: “I wasn’t sure what to expect but, despite all the training days I have engaged with, I can see that one can’t beat a more tailored approach than a visit from a forestry expert to a woodland.” She continued: “In this respect the Good Woods program is inspired and I am delighted to have been an early recipient of that support from a forestry professional like Paul (the Good Woods Advisor)”.


The Woodland Star Rating

Woodland management planning is key in enabling neglected woodlands to fulfil their potential for people and nature. But it can be a slow process and some owners don’t immediately see why it is needed. To help, Good Woods created a Woodland Star Rating (WSR), a light touch approach to management planning that enables woodland owners to get a feel for what the UKFS involves.

The WSR, based on a simple checklist, enables people to measure how their woodland management activities match up to the UKFS. A score is then calculated for these activities and factors in the level of ecosystem services that the woodland is deemed to provide. These services or benefits include carbon storage, quality of habitats and the products and services provided. Owners can easily download a certificate with their Woodland Star Rating which helps them demonstrate their level of woodland stewardship.

The idea is to support owners in improving their woodlands by identifying what further actions they can take. The rating scheme is available to all woodland owners free-of-charge as part of the myForest service developed and managed by the Sylva Foundation:

Alvecote Wood (7 ha) near Tamworth was the first woodland to receive a gold star in July, closely followed by Blenheim Palace Estate in Oxfordshire (over 500ha +).


Community engagement – promoting the benefits of forest management

A vital part of growing a thriving wood culture is to get local communities more involved in their nearby woods across all age groups. Good Woods is achieving this by running workshops and providing resources to increase awareness and understanding of the benefits of carrying out woodland work.


Good Woods is also further developing a Community Engagement Toolkit for woodland owners and managers, originally funded by the Forestry Commission, to provide clear information and resources to woodland owners and managers on developing and building community relations.


Bringing UK timber to market

Goods Woods will present a road map of the current UK wood supply chain, from our national woodland resource through to woodland products in national supply chains. This process will help identify the potential for bringing more timber from British woodlands to market and how B&Q, as one example, could access a greater volume of home-grown timber – thereby generating the market pull to fund woodland management work which in turn will lead to healthy and productive woodlands.


A forest product producer pack for woodland owners is also being developed to help them assess the timber species, volumes and product potential from their woodlands.




Grown in Britain

Grown in Britain week runs from 14-20 October 2013. Find out more about the initiative at



B&Q is the leading home improvement and garden centre retailer in UK. Its parent company, Kingfisher PLC is Europe’s leading home improvement retail group and the third largest in the world.. In 2011 B&Q reached a milestone having ensured that 100% of timber products it buys globally can be traced back to well-managed sources. Building on this success B&Q is now focussing on the UK market with the aim of creating sustainable, long-term working woodlands in the UK that will provide environmental, educational, social and economic value.



BioRegional is an entrepreneurial charity which establishes sustainable businesses and works with partners around the world to demonstrate that a sustainable future can be easy, attractive and affordable. We call our approach One Planet Living. BioRegional has previously pioneered projects to obtain useful woodfuel and charcoal from UK woodlands while conserving them.


The Sylva Foundation

The Sylva Foundation is a forestry charity working to revive Britain’s wood culture. It supports about 950 woodland owners across Britain in managing their woodlands sustainably through its myForest service. It also undertakes a range of science and education initiatives.



Lantern is an innovative environmental organisation that works to make a difference to companies, communities and the environment. It has extensive experience and knowledge of developing wood supply chains across the UK, working with woodland owners, wood processes and end users.

Good Woods - for people, for nature

Visit the Good Woods web page

The Good Woods project is a novel project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands. The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—will revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits. For more information contact Amy Hammond:

Comments (0)

New woodland owner benefits from Good Woods visit

posted on

Sonia Hutton-Taylor recently bought a small woodland (part of a much larger 90 acre woodland in southern Hampshire).  Sonia is a medical professional but in recent years her passion has turned to woodlands with her dream being fulfilled in January when she bought the woodland.  Sonia received a Good Woods visit from Paul Orsi (Sylva Foundation) with a view to assessing how she could improve her stewardship of the woodland.  They were joined on the visit by Sarah Greenaway, Senior Brand Manager for B&Q’s One Planet Home programme (

deadwood habitat in Sonia’s wood

Deadwood habitat in Sonia’s woodland

Sonia was keen to understand how she could start to manage her woodland, what products she could reasonably expect to get out of it and how she could do this while improving the woodland for biodiversity and amenity.  Paul explained the principals of sustainable timber yield and emphasised the importance of writing a management plan.  Economies of scale are important in such a small woodland and therefore Paul encouraged Sonia to collaborate with the other owners of the woodland to be able to bring viable volumes of timber to the market.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect from the visit but, despite all the training days I have engaged with, I can see that one can’t beat a more tailored approach to ones’ own patch from an expert. In this respect the Good Woods program is inspired and I am delighted to be able to have been an early recipient of that support from someone like Paul”. Sonia Hutton-Taylor

Good Woods - for people, for nature

Visit the Good Woods web page

The Good Woods project is a novel project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands. The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—will revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits. For more information contact Amy Hammond:

Category: Good Woods, myForest
Tags: , ,

Comments (1)

Good Woods helps nurture the next generation of veteran trees at Kingston University

posted on September 18, 2013

A Good Woods advisory visit to Kingston University has helped advise on the management of the next generation of veteran trees in woodland surrounding the Kingston Hill campus.

Alistair Yeomans of the Sylva Foundation met with Rachel Burgess, Biodiversity and Landscape Administrator at the university, who is responsible for woodland and other landscape features. Over half of the 16ha Kingston Hill campus is closed canopy semi-natural deciduous woodland. Growing throughout the woodland are many mature trees which form one of the most notable features of the predominantly wooded landscape that greets you when you arrive at the campus.

Woodland Nature Trail at Kingston University

The Woodland Nature Trail at Kingston University – information boards explaining the value of veteran trees

One of the principal aims for the woodland is to enable students and staff at Kingston University to learn about trees, and a woodland walk with information boards has been created to help fulfil this aim. Additionally Rachel organises volunteer groups of staff and students to carry out work in the woodlands.

Veteran trees and UK Forestry Standard

Promoting the United Kingdom Forestry Standard (UKFS) to woodland owners is an integral part of the Good Woods advisory visits. The UKFS offers guidelines for the management of veteran trees:

Retain and manage existing veteran trees and select and manage suitable individuals to eventually take their place’.

There are two elements to this guidance, firstly the identification and management of existing veteran trees and importantly, and often overlooked, the identification and management of the next generation of veteran trees. Compared to many historic environment features, veteran (or ancient) trees are often forgotten parts of our cultural heritage and many are not recorded or actively managed.

What is a veteran tree?

The term veteran tree is not precisely defined, however a tree may be regarded as a veteran due to:

  • great age;
  • great age relative to others of the same species;
  • existing in an ancient stage of life or due to its biological, aesthetic or cultural interest.

Size alone does help identify veteran trees, however different species may have different rates of growth or natural life spans. Management practices such as coppicing may make the identification of the true age of the coppice stool difficult to gauge. For this reason, the species, relative ages, management practice, aesthetic, cultural and biological importance should all be taken into account when surveying or assessing potential veteran trees. Natural England have produced helpful information on how to identify a tree with veteran status (see below).

Woodland management and veteran trees

mature oak growing in the Kingston Hill woodland

Rachel Burgess, Kingston University’s biodiversity and landscape administrator, pointing out a mature oak growing in the Kingston Hill woodland.

Given the high value of the Kingston Hill woodland, especially given its urban location, many of the trees in the woodland have Tree Preservation Orders and as such have been identified, carefully mapped and recorded by Rachel. During the Good Woods advisory visit Alistair and Rachel discussed the benefits of creating a woodland management plan through the myForest service. The myForest planning template is based on Forestry Commission England’s woodland management planning grant requirements. The planning approach should take into account and detail management prescriptions for the veteran trees growing in the wood. Such prescriptions may include ‘halo thinning’ of trees, which involves the removal of younger competing trees from the immediate area surrounding the selected tree so that it continues to receive the light and space needed to thrive.

All of the woodland areas were briefly surveyed, a process which identified characteristics that indicated that some areas of the woodland were once managed as coppice-with-standards, and other areas where trees possibly grew in a more open parkland environment. This seems to be the case when looking at older maps for the site which showed a more open pasture habitat in some of the sub-compartments.

Significant areas of the woodland have rhododendron and holly growing in them. Kingston University is reducing the amount of rhododendron in particular as they can be detrimental to veteran trees when the bushes become large enough. Being shade tolerant they can grow very close to the trunk of the veteran and compete for water in dry years. They are also serious competitors for light when tall. As they cast a deep shade all year round. However it is worth noting that care is required when removing vegetation from around a veteran so that sudden removal does not result in excess desiccation of the trunk.

The next generation of veteran trees

Alistair and Rachel considered long-term management of veteran trees on the site. This might involve identifying the next generation of veteran trees across the compartments and ensuring that the conditions surrounding them promotes their growth.

The Kingston Hill woodland is principally managed for biodiversity and amenity value, however within broadleaved woodlands that have a more productive focus, considering the following points will help ensure that trees are selected to grow into the veterans of the future:

  • Aim for  5 – 10 veteran trees per hectare.
  • Keep trees that will not be in the way or become hazards to the public in the future, will not become over-topped by crop trees and are close to areas with conservation interest, e.g. plentiful dead wood, glades.
  • Encourage the trees to develop a full crown.
  • Consider creating pollarded trees, if a full crown is not appropriate, but remember that they will need to be managed in the future.
  • Select native, longer-lived species such as oak, ash and beech. Retain some others such as, willow, wild service and other fruit trees, which are valuable as nectar sources or have a distinct invertebrate fauna. Bear in mind that the harvesting of the crop trees will have a large impact on retained trees, especially if the crop is coniferous.

Further reading

Good Woods - for people, for nature

Visit the Good Woods web page

The Good Woods project is a novel project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands. The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—will revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits. For more information contact Amy Hammond:

Comments (0)

Good Woods advisor uses heavy horses to transform sensitive woodland sites

posted on September 5, 2013

One of the B&Q Good Woods project advisors, Matt Waller, explains how heavy horses can help in managing sensitive woodland sites.

Matt Waller working a heavy horse in woodland

Matt Waller of Hawthorn Heavy Horses working a heavy horse in woodland, here extracting a small log.

As a woodland advisor for Good Woods, Matt is helping woodland owners to develop an initial vision for their woodland and advise how this can be achieved through the development of a woodland management plan. He’s an experienced forester, who understands the need for good woodland management in helping woods to provide us with clean air and water, good habitat for plants and wildlife, and beautiful spaces for exercise and relaxation.

To do these jobs, modern foresters typically use heavy machinery—such as tractors or forwarders. Under certain circumstances, however, these types of machines can be inappropriate. Matt Waller has faced such circumstances in the past when managing a woodland on behalf of Harlow Council in Essex, which was designated as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). He needed to cut down and extract a large oak tree as part of the woodland’s management programme but heavy machinery was banned from the site as it could put ruts in the forest floor or contaminate the area with harmful pollutants. The oak was too heavy to move by hand, so Matt began searching for alternatives.

Stacking logs rideside, extracted from woodland by a heavy horse

Stacking logs rideside, extracted from woodland by a heavy horse

After considering options as unusual as ‘an Egyptian log-rolling technique,’ he eventually settled on one of Britain’s oldest logging methods—using heavy horses. They offer a great solution that is both environmentally sound and sympathetic to local users and wildlife. Matt tracked down one of the few remaining horse-logging operators in the country and hired him for the job. As he watched the horse removing the oak while standing with his wife, Claudia—who had experience with heavy horses—he realised there was nothing stopping them from starting a horse-logging company of their own. As Matt puts it, “I knew about cutting down trees and she knew about horses.”

The Wallers began undergoing additional training in horse logging, including experience working with a professional horse logger in Finland. In 2008, they were able to start their business, Hawthorne Heavy Horses, with the help of their first major contract, the Hylands Heavy Horses Project.

A joint venture between Chelmsford City Council and Chelmsford’s Writtle Agricultural College—the Heavy Horses Project was looking to return working horses to Hylands House, a 574-acre heritage estate located on the outskirts of the Essex town. Hawthorn Heavy Horses entered an agreement to provide the project with technical expertise in exchange for stable facilities, and the first horses—two Suffolk Punches — arrived at the estate in June 2008.

Though initially the horses were used primarily as a visitor attraction, providing demonstrations and carriage rides, over the past few years they have been increasingly used for grass cutting, harrowing and timber extraction in the estate’s 70 acres of woodland. Today, timber from the estate is used for firewood or charcoal sold locally. This has a triple benefit—providing the estate with additional revenue, the Wallers with employment, and local wildlife with a better habitat. Since coppicing and felling activities began on the estate three years ago forest floors that were once overgrown with brush and shadowed by the forest canopy are now covered with thistles and bluebells.

With the help of skilled forestry professionals, like Matt Waller, Good Woods is focussing on reaching out to owners of under-managed woodlands, starting in the South East and East of England. The project is promoting the benefits of woodland management planning; help to strengthen links between communities and woodlands; build forestry skills, and develop markets for woodland products.

For more information on Hawthorn Heavy Horses visit their website

If you are a woodland owner in the southeast or east England, and would like to be considered for a free visit, please contact us (see the links below).


Good Woods - for people, for nature

Visit the Good Woods web page

The Good Woods project is a novel project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands.  The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—will revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits. For more information contact Amy Hammond:


Comments (0)

Good Woods supports Nonsuch Voles community volunteer group

posted on August 28, 2013

Nonsuch Park, situated between Cheam and Ewell in a large residential area of London, was historically an estate of Henry VIII. Earlier this month it received an advisory visit under the B&Q Good Woods project, to help secure its future in the 21st Century and beyond.

Owned by Surrey County Council and leased to Epsom & Ewell Borough Council and the London Borough of Sutton, the park is managed through a joint management committee comprising the Councillors from both boroughs and, in an advisory capacity, by a number of local stakeholder groups.

One of the strategic aims of the Nonsuch Park management team was to establish a volunteer group.  In 2011, Nonsuch Voles was established as a voluntary association, with the four founding members forming the group’s committee. Today there are nine members, although the number fluctuates as people join the group and others move on. The group meets two days a week. Activities currently include woodland management, woodland craft, firewood production in the woodlands and gardening maintenance, pruning and planting in the formal gardens.

Nonsuch Voles

Nonsuch Voles community volunteers working in the woodland

The vision for the woodland at Nonsuch is to “bring the woodland to life, making it accessible and sustainable”. With this in mind, the aim has been to increase levels of woodland stewardship at Nonsuch, re-introducing sustainable woodland practices. Activities to date have included undertaking thinning and coppicing activities for two woodland parcels over the last two autumns/winters. Over 1,000 Hazel saplings have been planted in these areas to provide future coppice produce. Future activities include completing the woodland management plan and working on thinning, coppicing and planting over other areas in the woodland. In order to monitor the impact of re-introducing management activities in the Nonsuch woodlands, ground flora and butterfly surveys were undertaken prior to any work starting in the area. Annual surveys and photographic records have demonstrated a significant increase in the number of species of ground flora and butterflies following the coppicing work.

Good Woods visit to Nonsuch

Discussing the finer points of woodland management during the Good Woods advisor visit

John Armitage, a resident independent coppice worker, manages the wood yard and provides overall co-ordination of the woodland activities, in line with a management plan to be developed with the Forestry Commission.

The Nonsuch Park joint management committee provides a good example of multiple stakeholders groups working together to achieve a mutual vision. As well as councillors and staff from the two councils, the group includes three voluntary interest groups including the Nonsuch Voles.

Good Woods advisor Laurence Crow provided an advisory visit. Being involved with the Good Woods project has benefited the Nonsuch Voles and joint management committee by:

  1. Introducing the myForest tool to enable the group to map the woodlands and document their management plans;
  2. Establishing how the woodland and the management activities currently perform in relation to the UK Forestry Standard and the provision of ecosystem services, and what steps can be taken to improve this, through the Woodland Star Rating assessment;
  3. Helping spread the word about the group’s woodland activities and connecting the group with other groups and experts involved in woodland management.

The Nonsuch Voles are always interested in hearing from anyone with a keen interest in woodland management or gardening at Nonsuch Park, and who can spare a few hours to help with the group’s tasks.  Information can be found at, by emailing or by going to the group’s Facebook page.

Good Woods - for people, for nature

Visit the Good Woods web page

The Good Woods project is sponsored by B&Q with the aim of promoting good woodland stewardship. For more information contact Amy Hammond:

Comments (0)
Older Posts »