Communities Offered Funding To Manage Local Woods

COMMUNITIES across Merseyside are being offered funding from a £170,000 pot to manage and own their local woods. The new pilot launched by the Woodland Trust is an attempt to increase the tiny level of woodland currently in community ownership, supporting the work of existing organisations in the region. The Trust is offering start-up grants of £500 to new groups looking to form in the pilot region, with established groups looking to take on some form of woodland ownership being eligible to apply for a grant of up to £10,000. The charity will also hold a number of training events to help communities build management and engagement skills and has launched a website which provides information and resources for anyone to find out how to set up a group to help manage or acquire an area of woodland. Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust chief executive, said: “Trees and woods have so many benefits for society but we’re becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world. By providing resources and funding we can try and halt this worrying trend, helping people on Merseyside who are passionate about their local woods take an active role in the care and management of them.” Jo Sayers, Community Officer from The Mersey Forest, said: “Through our Friends of the Woodlands project we have been supporting groups for many years – providing our time, training and small grants. Community involvement, participation, and ownership are absolutely fundamental to our work. It’s very rewarding to be out working with groups and to see what our combined energy can do.” Nationwide is pledging over £1.25 million to support the Woodland Trust’s community woodland pilot. As well as this it will be inspiring, motivating and supporting communities to create, manage, and own their local woods. Stephen Uden, Nationwide’s Head of Citizenship, added: “Nationwide has long supported a range of community groups and organisations as part of our Living our Your Side strategy and we see woodland use as an important, constructive and healthy way to help bring people together. “By providing community groups with the financial and practical support they need to plant, manage and take ownership of new woodland spaces, we hope to be able to spark a woodland revolution that will benefit people now and long into the future.” The Trust will be building on the successful work of the Mersey Forest, which has been supporting communities for over twenty years to take an active role in their local woodlands and green space for the benefit of people, the environment and the local economy. Nationwide is partnering with the Woodland Trust as part of the Society’s commitment to invest £15m into local communities by 2017 and plant 60,000 trees for each current and future employee and customers that have signed up to receive correspondence electronically. The pilot is being launched as the Woodland Trust and over 40 other organisations look to create a new movement for woods ands trees in the form of The Charter for Trees, Woods and People. For more information about the pilot and how to apply for the grants visit www.communitywoodland.org