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2017 Urban and Community Forestry Award

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2017 winners

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This Award encourages and rewards projects involving urban and community woodlands which have been established and managed in a way which is sustainable and beneficial to the landscape, the local people, biodiversity and the economy in both the short and long term.

Gold: Warley Woods, Smethwick, West Midlands, managed by Warley Woods Community Trust

Joint Silver: Foundry Wood, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire managed by ARC CIC and Friends of Foundry Wood; and 

Lynford Arboretum, Thetford, Norfolk managed by Friends of Thetford Forest

Highly Commended:  Ashing Lane Nature Reserve, Dunholme, Lincolnshire managed by Netttleham Woodland Trust

Warley Woods, Smethwick, West Midlands, managed by Warley Woods Community Trust

Warley Woods is a 40 hectare site surrounded by dense urban development. The woodland includes

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Warley Woods facing onto Barclays Road showing a mixture of broadleaves and well worn paths respected by the residents

an area of ancient woodland, but the majority was planted in the early 1800s under the direction of Humphry Repton to establish a private pleasure ground for local industrialist Samuel Galton junior. The site, which includes a nine hole golf course, was saved from becoming a housing development in the 1900s by public subscription.

It then went into neglect but in 2004 was taken over by the newly formed Warley Community Trust who commissioned a woodland management plan in 2008 which has been guiding their work ever since. Around 240-400 people volunteer to maintain and manage the site and community activities include walking and running groups, fungi, bird and dawn chorus walks, trails, forest play and fairy doors.

Judges said Warley Woods in Smethwick is the model which "others should aspire to and emulate." and they added: "The Trust is extremely well organised and has an impressive system of governance which gives every confidence of long term security and continuity... This is an exceptional, high achieving and extremely well run and managed urban woodland and community led site and is well deserving of first place."

Foundry Wood, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, managed by ARC CIC and Friends of Foundry Wood

The 1ha Foundry Wood has been developed since 2012 on a former brownfield site - railway

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Coppiced area in Foundry Woods, much loved by children

sidings- in Leamington Spa. Volunteers have added new plantings to the sycamores, hawthorns, ash, walnut and birch that had naturally established. They have helped build circular paths, an outdoor classroom and composting toilets, bird boxes and interpretive signs. The wood is regularly open with pizza ovens, forest schools, a toddler group and story telling all adding to its enjoyment.

Judges said that so much can be achieved in so small a woodland area is hard to believe - but Foundry Wood on Princes Drive in Leamington Spa has shown that it can! And they added: "The partnership of ARC and the Friends of Foundry Wood is a winning formula with an outstanding result. Foundry Wood fully deserves its place in this competition."

 

Lynford Arboretum, Thetford, Norfolk, owned by Forestry Commission England and managed by Friends of Thetford Forest

Originally established by the owners of nearby Lynford Hall in the 1860s, the Arboretum was taken

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 Part of trials at Lynford Arboretum to see what grows best

over by the Forestry Commission in the 1950s who added many more tree species to the collection. However by the 1990s budget cuts moved the arboretum down the list of priorities and the site was suffering from reduced maintenance.

In 2007 the Friends of Thetford Forest took over the management and it is now the third most important arboretum in England as well as having Grade 1 Listed Parkland status. Located in what, at first, appears to be a fairly remote part of Thetford Forest, it soon becomes apparent that it enjoys a phenomenal level of use in no small way entirely attributable to the efforts of the Friends. 

Judges described it as: "...probably the most unusual community woodland ever visited by the judges – and it is truly delightful." and they added: " The Friends are efficiently run, effective in their aims and have good governance which will guarantee a secure future. This is an outstanding success story brought about by an equally outstanding organisation which works closely with the Forestry Commission in a mutually beneficial manner."

 

Ashing Lane Nature Reserve, Dunholme, Lincolnshire managed by Netttleham Woodland Trust

Ashing Lane Nature Reserve is located in  farmland a few miles miles north of the city of Lincoln. Nevertheless, it is an extremely popular community facility serving not just a few small villages nearby but also providing a venue for the residents of Lincoln and the wider area. Basically it meets a demand for an open access space in an area of otherwise intensively farmed land.

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Above: The book of oaks at Nettleham and below, discussing ash dieback threats with judge Trefor Thompson

The Nettleham Woodland Trust was formed 11 years ago to undertake small scale projects in the area north of Lincoln, but in 2009 the opportunity arose to create a new community woodland based around two small sites owned by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. A total of 31 hectares of predominantly new woodland is now managed by the Nettleham Woodland Trust which includes wildflower meadows, a small lake and wetland features.

Judges said:" Regular work parties keep the site in top condition with professional advice willingly sought and acted upon. The Trust is good at accessing appropriate funding sources and is has good governance to ensure its long term continuity. This is a developing project which has the potential to expand even further. "

Case studies featuring previous Small and Farm Woodlands award winners are available here.  

 

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