A new partnership is combining forestry and co-operation to bring woodlands in West Yorkshire back into economic production. Forest Culture, which comprises forester Matt Taylor and community and co-operative business development practitioner Mark Simmonds, has been set up to create management plans for woods throughout Calderdale.
The partnership is seeking funding for a programme which will connect woodland owners, forestry contractors and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. Project aims include creating sustainable livelihoods and helping communities recognise and realise the potential of their local woods.
Mark Simmonds says: “A significant proportion of Calderdale’s woodlands are currently unmanaged or undermanaged, but the Forestry Commission has a target of bringing 80% of all woodlands into UK Forest Standard compliant management.
“This lack of management is perpetuated through a misperception that Calderdale’s woodlands are of low economic value. But we believe a social entrepreneurial approach could and should be viable. In Calderdale we have an exciting opportunity to match owners of undermanaged woodland with engaged communities and businesses.”
Potential funders include the European Network for Rural Development’s LEADER programme, the Big Lottery Fund and the Forestry Commission’s rural development programme.