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Most recent news on the Trust’s great range of work

Woodlands for mental wellbeing

This summer we’ve been running a series of woodland sessions aimed at people with low to mid-level mental health needs based in the community. We wanted to encourage people to get outside, spend some relaxing time in nature, meet other people and try new things.

We hoped that people would find out if being in nature could help them develop coping strategies for daily life.

This pilot project was run in association with Public Health: Bristol and Lawrence Weston Community Farm. Participants were told about the sessions by their GP and could attend free of charge.

Activities ranged from making elderflower cordial to whittling, learning about wildlife and trying out simple survival skills. Participants came up with ideas of what they wanted to do, and session leaders helped them to follow their interests by providing expertise and support.

Feedback at the end of the pliot was very positive. One participant said, “I no longer stare at the ground when walking about, instead I’ve learned from being here to look around at all the colours, remember tree names and maybe collect fallen leaves”.

They went on to say, “my family and boyfriend have noticed a big improvement in my depression and are always asking what I have done when I come home.”

We hope to expand the Forest of Avon Trust’s nature-based health and wellbeing projects in 2016, based on the interests and needs of different groups. Do get in touch if you are interested in working with us:

Posted in: Latest News, Our Projects | Tagged , , |

Committed to Getting Woodlands Managed

The Forest of Avon Trust has produced approved Forestry Commission Woodland Management Plans for over 700 ha of local woodlands. This is part of our commitment to getting at least 50% of woodlands in to management by 2020.

We are very grateful for sponsorship which means that making contact with woodland owners across Avon and offering advice on grant schemes.

We are also extremely pleased that the Forestry Commission continues to make woodland management a priority and in return for their Woodland Planning Grant we can produce an approved Woodland Management Plan for free* (for woodlands 3ha+).

The new Woodland Stewardship scheme means that an approved management plan is now required to access the new Woodland Improvement grants and associated capital grants.

If you have a woodland which is 3ha+ please get in touch for a no- obligation meeting to discuss your woodland and the new grants which are available.

We are seeking sponsorship to offer the same free service for smaller woodland owners.

*For complex woodlands there may be a modest charge.

Posted in: Latest News |

New Paid Trees & Woodlands Role

Community Trees & Woodlands Officer

If you are passionate about working with groups to plant, maintain and care for trees/ woodlands and are also committed to growing your role as part of a local charity, we have just the job for you.

Click here save file to your computer: Community Trees & Woodland Officer

Email:  or Tel: Jon Clark (0117) 963 3383 to discuss.


Posted in: Future Woods, Garden Forest, Grown in Britain, Latest News, Our Projects |

Forest of Avon Has Taken Root

Idealised Community Forest c.1990.

Forest of Avon Community Forest

Posted in: Latest News |

New Video of our Work

Click here  and play for a short video which showcases some of the charity’s work and that of two other local projects.

Posted in: Latest News |

Discover your Local Woodlands

On January 3rd Charity Director Chris Bloor lead the first in a series of local woodland walks for Trust Friends. 8 people and 2 dogs braved the rain on the Hidden Woods Walk: which explored the woodlands of north Bristol.

More walks are planned though the year on the first Saturday in the month. The next one will be on February 7th (meet at Blaise: Kingsweston Road car park at 11 a.m.) to explore the fantastic woodlands of the Blaise Estate. The March walk will take in the woodlands in/ around Bradley Stoke. Future walks will include Brislington Brook, the Northern Slopes, Ashton Court and Dundry Slopes.

The woodland walks are one of the many benefits available to Friends of the Forest of Avon Trust, who also directly support our work for local trees and woodlands.  To find out more, please click here.

For walk information and to confirm bookings, please email:

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Trees offer a great return on investment

View up into tree canopyMore evidence about the (really) positive role of trees. Government agency Natural England has published a report about the benefits of investing in the natural environment (MEBEI2). The report sets out evidence from a number of studies into the effects of natural infrastructure on health, wellbeing, work, productivity and climate change.

The importance of trees and woodlands, particularly in urban areas, was highlighted throughout the report. Some key points are:

  • “Trees and plants can reduce the need for heating and cooling of buildings, and therefore lower energy costs.
  • “Urban centres in particular may in future suffer from dangerous heat and air pollution. Some of the impact may be reduced by investment in the natural environment (particularly trees).
  • “By increasing infiltration rates in forest soils, trees can have significant impacts on flooding, modelling since the O’Connell review in Pontebren in Wales suggests that in this context, a shelterbelt at right angles to the slope could reduce field scale flood peaks by 40%.
  • “Urban forests intercept rain water and reduce peak run off… Test plots in Manchester demonstrated that over a year, the addition of a street tree could reduce stormwater runoff by between 50% and 62% in a 9 square metre area, compared with asphalt alone.
  • “Trees can contribute to greater hydraulic roughness of floodplains, slowing water flow. Modelling around the River Parrett… found that floodplain woodland could slow water velocity within the woodland, increasing the water level by up to 270mm and increasing flood storage by 71%.
  • “Green infrastructure makes a number of important contributions to local climate regulation… A single large tree can transpire 450 litres of water in a day which uses 1000 mega joules of heat energy, making urban trees an effective way to reduce urban temperature.
  • “Modelling of the impact of trees on a two-storey office building in Scotland found that using trees as a shelterbelt could potentially reduce office heating energy use by 3.64 kilowatts per square metre of floor area (18.1 percent of total heating energy use)… from October to April.
  • “Surveys across 26 different-sized cities in the USA found that shoppers reported being willing to travel further to visit, stay longer once there, and more frequently visit, business districts with trees.”

Read the full report on the Natural England website. Also, don’t forget what you can do locally by supporting the Forest of Avon Trust to get more trees planted and more woodland managed. Details of the great role that North Somerset’s trees are playing in locking up pollution to be blogged soon.

Posted in: Future Woods, Latest News | Tagged , |

Natural Connections launch for Somerset, Bristol & Wiltshire

Natural Connections, one of the largest outdoor learning initiatives in the country, is coming to Somerset, Bristol and Wiltshire. This new educational project aims to inspire and connect school children with the natural environment by supporting and promoting teaching outdoors. David Bond, the inspiration behind Project Wild Thing, will launch Natural Connections on 27 June at a conference at Ashton Court.

80 local primary and secondary schools will work together through Natural Connections to develop a culture of taking learning outdoors. The project hopes to inspire and engage teachers, pupils, parents and volunteers. Teachers can also benefit from specially tailored online resources and links to local partners as well as information on additional funding sources for outdoor projects. Schools in Somerset and Wiltshire are supported by the Forest of Avon Trust, and in Bristol by Lighting up Learning.

Natural Connections Project Manager Ian Blackwell said: ‘Parents, teachers, businesses, communities… Everyone has the same ambition over the coming years. We all want to see children enjoy learning, keep healthy, and achieve more in our schools. We hope that access to local outside spaces for lessons through the Natural Connections Project will help achieve this.’

Jim Burt, Principal Advisor for Outdoor Learning at Natural England said: ‘The Government wants to see every child in England given the opportunity to experience and learn about the natural environment… Feedback from teachers and schools participating in the trial to date has been overwhelmingly positive.’

The Natural Connections conference, on Friday June 27, is open to schools, partners, community groups and outdoor learning providers from across the area. You are welcome to attend the event to find out how to get involved in the project and to discuss partnerships.

Natural Connections Hub Leaders manage the project at local level, in partnership with Plymouth University. The Forest of Avon Trust is hub leader for Somerset and Wiltshire. For more information please contact Jon Attwood on: (0117) 963 3383 or email:

Download the Natural Connections Conference flyer (pdf) for 27 June.

Posted in: Forest School, Latest News, Natural Connections Demonstration Project, Our Projects | Tagged , , |

Exciting Opportunity for a Planning Volunteer

We are looking for a Planning volunteer to:

  • Identify and review the status of references to the Forest of Avon (FoA) Community Forest in the planning and policy documents of the West of England authorities;
  • Make recommendations about where references to the FoA Community Forest would be most effective in forthcoming planning and policy documents and (ideally) to:
  • Work with the charity over a period of time to secure a greater recognition of the FoA Community Forest in local planning and policy documents.

The context for this work is that the FoA Community Forest operated as a formal partnership from 1992 to 2009, during which time Council Officers ensured a range of supportive policies were included in planning and policy documents. On the ending of the partnership, the Forest of Avon Trust carried forward the principles of the FoA Community Forest, but has lacked the capacity to undertake this important planning policy work.

This voluntary role provides a great opportunity to directly support a growing charity and to make use of (and develop) planning policy skills and experience. For the first two components of the role, we need someone with a good knowledge of the planning system. For the latter one, (which could be a separate role), we would also need someone with experience of working in the planning system and with good communication skills. Both roles would need access to a computer and phone. 

Work could be undertaken very flexibly over a period of time, averaging approximately 1- day/ fortnight. It would principally home- based with occasional meetings with Jon Clark, Trust Executive Director.

If you are interested, please email Jon on to arrange an informal discussion, or call (0117) 963 3383.

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An introduction to Forest School

Level 1 Forest School traineesForest School is well-established as a great way to engage groups in woodland activities and support personal development. The Forest of Avon Trust is committed to this inspirational approach and we run accredited training to support outdoor enthusiasts to lead their groups.

During March we ran level 1 Forest School training courses at Lawrence Weston Community Farm and the trust’s Retreat woodland, near Bitton. These two day courses are a great opportunity for people to find out what Forest School is and to take away lots of practical activities and ideas to use with their groups.

Those on the course were enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to get going leading their own groups. One participant commented: “Really amazing. Now I feel I can really do this”, another said: “This has re-lit my passion for learning outdoors”.

A combination of teaching staff, youth workers, parents and those wanting to develop outdoor businesses attended the training. Some of those doing the level 1 course will now go on to do the more demanding level 3 course so that they can become Forest School leaders.

Find out about the courses we run or book onto training at:

Posted in: Forest School, Latest News, Training activities | Tagged , , |