Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry & Rural Enterprise at the Sylva Foundation, was invited by the team at Bracknell Forest Borough Council to provide a Good Woods visit to look at the issues and opportunities arising from the Borough’s 500ha of woodland.
Bracknell is a new town built mainly in the 1950s and 60s and was largely cut out of the pine woodlands which still dominate land to the south of the town. Remnants of this woodland are found in pockets throughout the urban landscape and provide a very distinctive feel. Paul met with members of the Parks and Countryside Team as well as the Landscape Services Team, and visited some of these remnants as well as an area of deciduous woodland that is managed by the Ranger Service.
It was clear that each of the teams have been undertaking some great work in the Borough’s woodland areas. Of particular note was an area of woodland in the north of the Borough where the Ranger Service had brought hazel coppice back into management over the last 10 years. Ranger Marie-Anne Phillips has been using local volunteer groups to cut the coppice with the produce being used for hedgelaying, bean poles and Morris Dancing sticks. This work has created a very diverse woodland structure that is great for wildlife.
What became clear during the visit was, that as well as some great work being undertaken in the individual woodlands, there were opportunities to work more strategically across the Borough to support sustainable forest management. Many of the pine woods are reaching maturity and now is the perfect time to be thinking about woodland at a landscape scale. Paul encouraged the team to contact the Forestry Commission to discuss grants that are available to aid with management planning. Paul also suggested that the woodland resource could be harnessed to provide woodfuel for community use and that grants are available through the Forestry Commission for assessing this resource.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org