Tag Archives: Community Forest Path

Forest of Avon Has Taken Root

Idealised Community Forest c.1990.

Forest of Avon Community Forest

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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: chrisbloor64@gmail.com.

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Chris Bloor: the Community Forest Path

Chris BloorChris Bloor joined the Forest of Avon Trust in April as Trust Director with responsibility for outdoor access. Here Chris reflects on his interests and some of the work that he will be leading for the charity:

“One of my main interests in working for the Forest of Avon Trust is to improve and promote the Community Forest Path (CFP) – the 45-mile route around the City of Bristol, designed by Rennie Dickins and created by the Forest of Avon  to link areas of the Community Forest and also lead people out of the city into the countryside.

The Community Forest Path at Dundry“I have been looking after the path for four years, since the ending of the Forest of Avon Partnership. I think of myself as taking care of the forest in its original sense, which has little to do with trees and woodlands. The forest was the place to get out, from the Latin foras! (to the gate! or out!), the answer the exasperated Roman might give when their partner asked Quo vadis? (Where are you going dear?) I agree with internationally renowned, conceptual artist Richard Long (who lives in Failand) when he says, ‘A walk expresses space and freedom’, (except I would say run).

“I instituted the Green Man Challenge to promote the Community Forest Path and reinvented the term Woodwose to describe those who complete the challenge inside 24 hours. There are currently 266 Woodwoses entered in the Forestal Book of the Honourable Order of Woodwoses. The number of people completing the challenge has increased considerably now that Ultrarunning Ltd has taken it up as an ultramarathon race.

“I have written two books of walks designed to carry out the aim of the Community Forest Path (CFP) to lead people out of the city into the countryside. These routes circle off sections of the CFP and are designed to visit community centres such as pubs and cafes and to link woods, rivers and nature reserves to the CFP. They are beginning to look a little dated as pubs close, bus routes change and green spaces are built on.

“As a Director of the Trust I want to help the charity continue to grow and in initially will focus on: improving signage and waymarking along the Community Forest Path; finding ways of making my routes freely available and building links with the North Bristol Health Trust.”

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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.

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