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The Forest of Avon is one a national programme of Community Forests.

Professor Alice Roberts

Trust Patron: Professor Alice Roberts talks about the importance of woodlands, the Forest of Avon Trust and a major new research project launched this week:

I’m passionate about the importance of woodlands – and that importance ranges from the global and economic to the deeply personal and psychological. Forests form a critical component of global ecosystems – and are crucially important for humanity. They support a huge range of life – home to half of all known species; they play crucial roles in carbon and water cycles; they provide us with building materials and fuel; and as we walk through them, they fill us with a sense of calm and wellbeing.

 It’s hard to believe it, but the UK has the lowest woodland cover of any European country. After millennia of deforestation – which started thousands of years ago, in the Neolithic, as farmers cleared woodland to make way for crops and livestock – there’s now a pressing to re-forest. Visions of a sustainable UK include much larger areas of managed woodland. The mission of the Forest of Avon Trust includes protecting trees and woodland, planting more, and helping people to enjoy these wonderful natural spaces.

The University of Birmingham is committed to forest research, which will inform how we sustain and nurture our woodlands as the climate changes. We’ve just launched a multi-million pound open-air experiment aimed at understanding how woodlands will respond to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere this century. You can read more about the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research here. ’

Find out more about the Forest of Avon Trust’s wide- ranging work in Bristol & Avon here and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date on the latest tree & woodland news.

Posted in: Business Sponsors, Forest of Avon, Future Woods, Latest News, Our Projects, Outdoor Learning, Professor Alice Roberts, Safeguarding our Trees, Woodland Management, Woodland Wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , |

Quarterly news from the Trust

Here is the latest news from the Forest of Avon Trust.  The picture on the left shows OVO Energy volunteers taking a well-earned break at The Retreat.

The Forest of Avon Trust was established to pick up the baton of the Forest of Avon Community Forest which achieved so much in this area to 2009.  As a consequence, it is really pleasing to now have the funding to work with Friends Groups, (which in many cases were established with the support of the Forest of Avon Partnership) to provide skills training to help them manage local woodlands.  Sincere thanks to the OVO Foundation for this.

It is also really pleasing to have just been able to appoint long- standing charity Associate: Nicola Ramsden as Health & Wellbeing Officer to further develop an area of work which has always been core to our values.  A summary of our most recent work is here:

  • Running successful Forest School Level 1, Level 3 and Outdoor First Aid courses as part of our 2016 training programme. Since 2011, the charity has professionally trained 132 Forest School Leaders and provided accredited training to 363 people, making quite a contribution to outdoor learning in Bristol and beyond;
  • Delivering the Dementia Well-being pilot project in partnership with Bristol Dementia Partnership. This evaluated project is offering woodland activities to people with dementia and their partners/ carers; we hope that this will lead to similar projects within the area: part of a suite of activities delivered by the charity, making a real difference to people’s lives;
  • Linked to the above, securing a grant from the Quartet Community Foundation to run activities for adults with learning disabilities in South Gloucestershire;
  • Delivering the Woodland Skills project supported by a grant from the OVO Foundation, with 10 training days for Friends Groups currently planned;
  • Linked to the above, running volunteering activities to improve local woodlands; so far, 43 OVO Energy volunteers  have been involved in maintaining The Retreat and two of Bristol City Council’s 1 Tree per Child planting sites;
  • Producing two Forestry Commission Woodland Management Plans for owners in North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and securing agreement for four more; 850ha woodland in the area is now making an improved contribution to biodiversity, landscape, recreation, pollution management, mitigation of climate change and more. If you know anyone with a 3ha+ woodland please email:
  • Producing two Forestry Commission small woodland management plans, funded by a grant from Pukka Herbs;
  • Running our fifth Allotment Orchard project with Bristol City Council, providing discounted fruit trees and bushes to allotment holders; (the scheme is also open to others, so please apply, closing date: 21st October); and
  • Continuing to grow our presence on Twitter (2,719 Followers) and Facebook (1,441 reached in September), extending knowledge of our growing range of activities and services.
Posted in: Forest of Avon, Latest News |

Forest of Avon Plan

The Forest of Avon Plan is now available to download from the Forest of Avon Trust’s website, along with Planning Guidance for the Forest, adopted by the four West of England authorities in 2005.

Subject to extensive consultation across sectors, the Forest Plan sets out an agreed vision and strategy for the Community Forest across 221 square miles in and around Bristol. The Forest area was increased in 2005 to cover the whole of the West of England (Avon) outside the AONBs.

The Forest Plan still has considerable currency, so please have a look at the web page and email: for more information, project or funding ideas.

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Forest of Avon Has Taken Root

Idealised Community Forest c.1990.

Forest of Avon Community Forest

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Why We Still Need a Community Forest

Street and garden trees integrate into woodlands

Street and garden trees integrate with existing woodland, grading to the Cotswold edge. Access links, play areas and open conservation sites extend through this. Farms and woodlands provide food and services for the urban market, with the ‘urban forest’ having the structure to accommodate any permitted development.

I worked for the first Community Forest: the Great North Forest from its beginning in 1990 and have worked in Community Forestry since. I remain strongly of the view that a shared, progressive and long- term strategy for the countryside around England’s largest urban areas is essential. This need not be prescriptive, but should be about a common will to spend time on improving the landscape and functionality of an area, in partnership with landowners, communities and many others.

The Forest of Avon Partnership ended in 2009 having achieved a great deal. Whilst 17 years is long-term in British planning terms, this charity was established to keep the momentum going. It is really heartening to hear Bristol Mayor: George Ferguson, refer to the need for more tree planting (one of our objectives) and cross boundary working.

If you want to help keep the Forest of Avon Community Forest vision and delivery going, email me here with your ideas and/or join us as a Friend (£3/ month).

Jon Clark.

Posted in: Forest of Avon, Future Woods, Latest News, Safeguarding our Trees | Tagged , , , , , |

Independent Panel on Forestry Report

On 4 July 2012 the Independent Panel on Forestry published its Final Report. The Panel’s chair, the Right Reverend Bishop James Jones said:

“The Panel’s work over the last year has shown that our woodlands, managed sustainably, can offer solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing society today. We have consulted widely, visited woods and forests around the country and read over 42,000 submissions.

There is untapped potential within England’s woodlands to create jobs, to sustain skills and livelihoods, to improve the health and wellbeing of people and to provide better and more connected places for nature.

Government investment is now needed to kick start these changes which will repay itself many times over in terms of public benefit”

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Join us as a Friend to Safeguard Local Woodlands



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