Fifty communities across the UK will receive support for projects to transform unmanaged woodland for jobs, leisure, education and services, thanks to a £1,151,111 Big Lottery Fund award to the Plunkett Foundation.
Making Local Woods Work, which launches later this year, will help people create sustainable social enterprises to benefit their communities. It will provide training, volunteering and employment opportunities to 500 people, tackling unemployment, social isolation and poverty.
The programme will support, advise and train 50 groups across the UK as they become woodland social enterprises. The project will include study visits, training in asset transfers, financing, asset acquisition, land brokerage, woodland management and business planning. It will also deliver training and knowledge-sharing events to 200 groups looking at setting up their own woodland social enterprises.
Peter Couchman, chief executive of the Plunkett Foundation, said: “This important work will help to support a range of social enterprises to bring woodlands into active management, increase their use and ultimately help more people to enjoy and benefit from woodlands. We’re excited to be working with both new and familiar partners on this project.”
Peter Ainsworth, chair of the Big Lottery Fund UK, said: “There aren’t many woodland social enterprises around yet, but where they do exist they have a great record of promoting skills and employability.
“It’s exciting to be able to support this initiative which aims to improve the quality of life of those directly involved and also make woodlands more accessible and better looked after for the benefit of all.”