Making Local Woods Work is an exciting pilot project working to help support and grow woodland social enterprises across the UK. The project is funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund and led by Plunkett Foundation and involves a range of fantastic partners.

Over the next three years we’ll be working with 50 woodland social enterprises across the UK. We’ll be providing them with a range of support tailored to their individual needs; all fifty will receive four days of specialist support, with the majority then going on to receive at least some further assistance up to a further 12 days of support per group.

We’ll also be making sure there lots of ways that anyone interested in or involved with woodland social enterprise can get involved – from training events and workshops to webinars and national campaigns. Visit our Get Involved page to find out more.

Who are we currently working with?

We’re currently working with 50 groups at various stages of development, all of whom are looking to undertake new activity that will help to provide a range of benefits for local people, bring woodlands into active management and generate trading income. They’re all receiving support to realise their vision for their woodlands creating opportunities for jobs, leisure, and education, and to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.

Where did it all start?

The initial idea for Making Local Woods Work, a pilot support programme for woodland social enterprises, started to be developed from the first meeting of what became the Woodland Social Enterprise Network in December 2012.

Three organisations called this meeting – Plunkett Foundation, Forestry Commission England and Hill Holt Wood. It was a gathering of those involved in forestry and woodland management, social enterprise and community ownership and management of assets. Its purpose was to discuss and agree a way forward for this group of interested parties to further social enterprise in and related to woodlands.

The meeting agreed that there was the need for a project to support the development of social enterprise in woodlands. It agreed that this project needed to provide a range of support, flexible to meet the needs of groups seeking support. It also agreed that further meetings, where the grouping and others could share what they are doing and make progress together, were needed which were supported by Forestry Commission England. The Woodland Social Enterprise Network, an informal grouping of people interested in this work, grew to over 80 individuals and organisations who met and shared information.

Making Local Woods Work and how it would operate developed over time at and in between the gatherings and after three years, the project was launched in September 2015. The Woodland Social Enterprise Network lives on through the project, both through the project steering group and the activities of the project.