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Making Woods Work: Developing the Woodland Economy in and Around The National Forest

Tuesday, 9th March 2010

Planting at Roundlet Wood

Making Woods Work has been developed by the National Forest Company and is jointly funded with East Midlands Development Agency (emda). The programme will provide business advice which complements the Business Link offer, carry out promotional and awareness raising activities and run a number of wood-themed events in order to boost landscape-based tourism, energy, craft, construction, recreation and leisure activities in the area.  

The National Forest has developed impressively over the past 15 years. Over 7.7 million trees have been planted, trebling the woodland cover in the area from 6% to 18%, twice the national average for England. The ultimate aim is to achieve one third woodland cover over the 200 square miles of the Forest area.  Hundreds of new woodlands have been planted and as these woodlands grow the potential for their economic use increases.  Making Woods Work has been devised to support both landowners with existing mature woodland and new woodland owners, with the education, training and awareness required to ultimately produce sustainable, high quality timber.

Ben Scotting of RDI explains that Making Woods Work also has a wider focus: ‘There are many new or existing businesses which could benefit from the large resource of young woodlands that require thinning.  One of the potential markets is firewood, one of our oldest and most reliable forms of fuel.  Today modern boilers and stoves can use wood to create heat, hot water or generate electricity, achieving carbon reduction targets, stimulating the local rural economy and alleviating fuel poverty.  There is scope in The National Forest to encourage the woodfuel supply chain and to install modern boiler applications. This project will help to scope such opportunities out, whilst ensuring that biodiverse and economically useful woods are available in the future.’

Andrew Morgan, emda’s Skills and Communities Director, said: “Preserving and enhancing the region’s natural resources is vital in ensuring sustainable economic growth. This project really taps into this ethos, and aims to support the ongoing development of the woodland related economy in the region and generate further interest in the Rural Development Programme for England grant scheme. Our investment of £110,000 highlights emda’s commitment to maximising the opportunities for all businesses associated with The National Forest and the surrounding rural area.”

Businesses interested in discussing the opportunities that are available through Making Woods Work should contact Ben Scotting on 01283 551211 or email:  mww@ruraldevelopment.org.uk