Tag Archives: well being in woodlands

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: Latest News | Tagged , , |

Volunteering with Forest of Avon Trust

Portrait photo of Scott Burnett in the woodsScott Burnett is an art psychotherapist with a particular interest in working with people creatively and therapeutically outdoors in local woodlands. Scott has a written this blog post about his experiences as a volunteer with the Forest of Avon Trust:

“I wanted to volunteer at the Forest of Avon Trust because it’s a great opportunity to participate in the various activities that the charity provides to help build my skills, knowledge and experience of working with groups outdoors.

“I’ve really enjoyed volunteering on the Woodland Works workshops with adults with learning disabilities run by Rachel Tomlinson and Nicola Ramsden. I learned a great deal from Rachel and Nicola about leading workshops like these and enjoyed seeing how much the participants clearly get from activities such as coppicing, dry-hedge building, sawing, fire-making and camp-cooking.

“In a recent workshop we did a pond dip. It was wonderful to see how enthusiastic and focused the participants were to identify pond wildlife. We were all impressed at how big and ‘mean’ the predator dragon-fly larvae looked!

“I was also fortunate to be able to help Jon Attwood when he led a Level 1 Forest School course  and workshops for teachers, play workers and other trainees. Whilst helping out I was able to learn from Jon’s long experience of providing Forest School activities and training.

I’ve already used one activity in my own environmental arts therapy workshops: the group make a circle of wood on the ground and divide it into segments, one for each person. Standing in a segment, each group member faces outwards and walks into the wood to spend time alone reflecting. They also bring back some natural objects that they find, which the group discusses. This activity may seem simple enough, but it offers so much in helping people to immerse themselves in the experience of being in a woodland and sharing this with others in the group.

“I look forward to continuing my association with the Forest of Avon Trust in the future to continue building my knowledge and experience.”

If you are interested in volunteering with the Forest of Avon Trust, please get in touch with Jon Clark at: jonclark@forestofavontrust.org

Posted in: Forest School, Training activities, volunteering | Tagged , , , , |

Woodland Works

Collecting tree guards

Two groups of adults with learning difficulties have been visiting The Retreat over the last year to learn new skills and help us manage the woodland.

Last week people from Choices4U helped clear dozens of tree guards and create a small area of hazel coppice. Participants from The Milestone Trust’s Stepping Forward group have also been hard at work in the woods, creating a dead hedge and pond dipping amongst other things.

The Woodland Works project was funded by South Gloucestershire Learning Difficulties Development Board and The Baily Thomas Charitable Trust and has been running since last summer. Participants have learned about fire lighting, shelter building, safe use of tools and wildlife identification (in all kinds of weather!)

A support worker from Milestone Trust said: “The retreat experience gave the service users valuable outdoor experiences. Learning about safety outdoors and using tools and fire. They learned to work together as a team and did independent projects. Outdoor confidence grew as they learned to make things from nature… All ask to go back to experience more.”

Using hand made bows and arrows

It hasn’t all been hard work though! The groups have also had fun making bows and arrows, building shelters, making music and creating woodland art. The Retreat also provides a therapeutic environment to spend time sitting quietly, listening and watching, a chance to feel connected to nature.

If you are interested in finding out more about Woodland Works, please contact: jonattwood@forestofavontrust.org

Posted in: Adults with Learning Disabilities, Forest School, Latest News | Tagged , , , , |

John Muir Training Session

The Forest of Avon Trust continues to develop its work as part of Natural Connections Demonstration Project, one of the largest outdoor learning projects in the UK. As ‘hub leader’ for North Somerset, we are excited to be supporting schools to forge links between each other, and with outdoor learning providers, to improve and extend learning in the natural environment.

The John Muir award is a key part of supporting and recognising schools and individuals in developing unique and valuable experience in the natural environment. This award works so well to support the this project as it is flexible to meet the needs of each group and also captures not only learning and development in natural spaces but also supports groups to look after and improve these spaces for people and wildlife.

It is great news that the John Muir award team are going to work with one of our key Beacon schools – Clevedon Secondary School – to run some training on Wednesday 26th March to support schools and professionals in North Somerset and the wider area to develop new opportunities for outdoor activities and explore using the John Muir award to capture this. If you would like to book on this please follow this link.

Posted in: Natural Connections Demonstration Project, Training activities | Tagged |

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: Future Woods, Join us as a Friend, Latest News | Tagged , , , |

Showcasing our Work

The Trust celebrated its third ‘birthday’ in December by taking on the lease of The Retreat and by filming three videos at the site, illustrating our work.  Trust patron and One Show regular Mike Dilger took time out of his busy schedule to help us with this, working with local media production company Constellation Media.

We were supported in the films by Forest School trainees; children and staff from Bradley Stoke Community School; and representatives from some of the organisations, businesses and Councils we have worked with.

Jon Clark, Trust Executive Director, said:

‘It was a cold and windy day, so huge thanks to everyone who took part. It was really heartening to hear everyone’s commitment to the cause. I am really pleased with three short films, which I hope speak for themselves.’

A mention has also got to go to Manor Farm Shop for an excellent warming lunch.

The videos are below: (also available on our YouTube Channel)

Tree Charity: the Forest of Avon Trust

Click here to play the video

 Tree Action in and Around Bristol

Forest School Leader Training

Click here to play the video

 

Posted in: Adults with Learning Disabilities, Business Sponsors, Community Partners, Forest School, Free Trees for Communities, Future Woods, Garden Forest, Join us as a Friend, Latest News, Natural Connections, Our Projects, Training activities | Tagged , , , , , |

The Trust has its First Woodland

The Retreat looking north.

The Retreat woodland, looking north

 

The Forest of Avon Trust is now the proud lessee of The Retreat community woodland at Beach, near Upton Cheyney. This 5.18 hectare native woodland was planted in 2000 and provides attractive woodlands walks, with great views extending over Bristol to the Severn Estuary.

Jon Clark, Forest of Avon Trust Executive Director said: ‘Taking on the lease of  The Retreat is a ‘real coming of age’ for the Trust, three years in to its life. We now have a great location for woodland walks, a fantastic site for Forest School training and new location for Tree Dedications. I would really like to thank Veale, Wasbrough, Vizards for their pro bono conveyencing support which helped make this possible.’

The Retreat is on Marshfield Lane, Beach and is clearly marked on Explorer Map 155 a mile east of Upton Cheyney, grid reference ST 710707. Telephone Jon on (0117) 963 3383 for more detailed directions.

The Retreat was formerly managed by the Woodland Trust and planted under their ‘Woods on Your Doorstep’ Lottery funded programme.

Posted in: Business Sponsors, Future Woods, Join us as a Friend, Latest News, Our Projects | Tagged , , |

Exploring the benefits of the Forest School approach

Person wearing a willow crown decorated with leaves

Activities at Ashton Court

The Forest of Avon Trust has been using the Forest School approach with a number of groups of adults with learning disabilities over the last few years. Getting groups out in to local woodlands to explore and undertake a range of activities that has brought them in to close contact with nature has been fun and beneficial. Through talking to those involved we have picked up on some common themes that demonstrate how individuals and groups can benefit from this small group based experience in a natural setting over a period of time. The following link explores this in more detail – Outdoor Activities with Adults with Learning Disabilities.

Posted in: Adults with Learning Disabilities, Forest School, Natural Connections | Tagged , |