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Is visiting a woodland mainly about getting away from the crowd?

Is visiting a woodland mainly about getting away from the crowd?

by Angus ~ 2 June, 2016 ~ comments welcome

Stone age man would not have come across many other people.  Possibly,  a couple of hundred in total.  I was once told by the geneticist, Steve Jones, that in his visit to central London he had seen more people on one day than an ancient man would have met in the course of his entire existence.  Our 'stone age' man would have come across more trees in his life than we will,  so perhaps there is a balance between encounters with fellow men and with nature that modern life has turned upside down.  Many people are said to be suffering from nature deficiency and this could be contributing to stress and anxiety.   Read more...

Trusted to play in the woodlands, and to take some risks

Trusted to play in the woodlands, and to take some risks

by Angus ~ 30 March, 2016 ~ 5 comments

Gary was convicted of burglary but had also been excluded from school for anti-social behaviour so he was given what is called a "referral order" by the Magistrates Court.  The Kent Youth Offending team had to decide what best to do with him so they visited Karen Little at March Wood to find out about her project near Ashford and she showed them her programme of activities for engaging young people.  Karen organises work in the woods, bushcraft, survival games and camp fire cooking.  She's properly trained and insured of course. The team liked what they saw and arranged for Gary to spend a week in the woods with Karen and her project. Read more...

Communitree project - connecting people with nature

Communitree project – connecting people with nature

by Angus ~ 9 March, 2016 ~ 2 comments

Danny English is a remarkably determined individual who says he wants to, "get people into woodlands and to help them connect with themselves and nature." He's not just about theoretical ideas but initiates dozens of events on a semi-commercial basis at a site called "The Island" in Summerseat, Lancashire, near to Ramsbottom. For example, he organises "Nature art", forest school and play-based learning around stories. One of Communitree's most popular activities is children's parties - these are typically for 10-15 visitors and last for 2-3 hours by which time everyone is exhausted and muddy but they have, hopefully, got closer to nature. Read more...

Unigate Wood - part of London's green lung

Unigate Wood – part of London’s green lung

by Angus ~ 12 January, 2016 ~ one comment

The Royal Forestry Society organises about 100 trips each year to visit woodlands - these are done through its local groups.  The London Division is particularly active with Paul Akers and Angus Morrison in charge - they recently arranged a trip to a small South London woodland of 2 acres, called Unigate Wood and invited the Director of the RFS as well as ordinary members such as me .   Unigate Wood was once part of the site of a Unigate Dairy which closed, leaving the dairy to be replaced by a large residential development .  As part of the planning permission the developer entered into a deal for planning permission called a "section 106 agreement " with Lambeth Council to preserve the woodland for local amenity and it is now jointly managed by Lambeth Council and the Friends of Unigate Wood.    The friends are led by Stephen Lacey who 10 years ago used the wood for walking his dog but couldn't resist building up a group of local volunteers to care for the site.  Read more...

Preparing for action.

Preparing for action.

by Dick ~ 7 October, 2015 ~ comments welcome

It is not unusual for owners to allow others to use their woodlands; community groups, scouts, guides, local schools and so on all benefit from spending time in woodlands up and down the country.   Less common is for a charity to use a woodland for pre-deployment training. Jon Mackeen, vice-chairman of DART international UK, a charity based near to the woodland in question, takes up the story:

"DART International is a registered UK charity that provides teams of experienced volunteer arborists (tree surgeons) to support worldwide disaster relief operations by removing obstructive trees and enabling other aid and rescue services to operate safely and effectively Read more...

Branching Out Adventures competing with Go-Ape in East Sussex

Branching Out Adventures competing with Go-Ape in East Sussex

by Angus ~ 25 September, 2015 ~ one comment

"Setting up our own business has been one steep learning curve after another," says Mark Oakden, whose background is in construction and surveying.  "When we opened to the public in May this year, we expected to be immediately overwhelmed by customers but it's taken some time to build up.  Now, 4 months on, it's going really well and we sometimes have 60 people in the wood climbing at the same time.  The most satisfying for me is working with kids who have disabilities or troubled backgrounds.  To be able to do something like this gives them huge self-confidence as well as a thrill."

Mark and his business partner Dave lease two acres of oak woodland at Bentley in East Sussex (near Lewes) and have invested over £300,000 to set up their high walkways, giant swing, climbing wall and zip wire.  Read more...

"Woodland Therapy" and outdoor counselling.

“Woodland Therapy” and outdoor counselling.

by Mark Wood ~ 28 August, 2015 ~ 16 comments

For a long time I wanted to take my therapy outside of the office, and indeed outside of any boxes, so I am really pleased that I can offer "talking therapy" in one of Woodlands.co.uk's woodlands near Ashford in Kent. The best way of understanding this kind of therapy, is for you to hear from some of my clients. Here a client describes the differences she sees between the therapy I offer, and the support she has received from her mental health team in recent years:

When I walked into the waiting room of the mental health department I was met by signs, posters and pictures all telling me about the different kinds of conditions and diseases I can be suffering from. I then sat in a waiting room surrounded by people who looked as if they no longer saw life as a positive choice, which you drink up like a sponge.  Read more...

Becky Speight, Woodland Trust chief, outlines her new vision

Becky Speight, Woodland Trust chief, outlines her new vision

by Angus ~ 9 July, 2015 ~ one comment

Visiting the Woodland Trust headquarters in Grantham, Lincolnshire, immediately gets you thinking of trees - it is surrounded by young silver birch trees and the walls are clad in wooden panels and even the reception desk is a sawlog that has been cut into planks for seasoning   The footprint of the building at Kempton Way is C-shaped, said to be in the shape of an unfurling fern enclosing a sheltered woodland garden.  Inside, about a hundred people, predominantly young, sit in open plan offices in front of their screens, avidly organising and tapping out the Woodland Trust message mostly fundraising or campaigning – the other staff are out in the field managing their estate of over 1000 woods or working with landowners.

We met the chief executive, Beccy Speight, who has been at the helm for a year and is clearly immensely capable and knows woodlands inside-out - her previous job was managing a chunk of the National Trust Read more...

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