Inspired by Amsterdam's Bos Park and the German stadtwalder, the first three Community Forests were established in 1989. Pioneering work was undertaken to bring together a wide-range of interests in partnerships to agree comprehensive land-use plans, guiding strategic tree planting, whilst conserving & enhancing the wider natural environment (all with a strong community dimension and focused on delivering public benefit). Whilst titles for strategic land use planning to deliver public benefits have and will continue to change, they are essentially reworking Community Forest principles.
The coherent & strategic planning of the Forest of Avon and the long-term partnership work to create it, have delivered significant public benefits to the Bristol & Avon area. It is encouraging that Defra is increasingly recognising the role of the Community Forests, which may underpin this successful programme in to the long-term.
The Forest of Avon Plan
The Forest of Avon was established in 1992. The Forest’s creation is guided by an detailed Forest Plan, which sets out strategies for the Forest’s creation over 221 square miles of land in and around Bristol. The Forest Plan was approved by a partnership of the Forestry Commission, the Countryside Agency (now Natural England) and the four West of England authorities in in 1995 and an updated version in 2002.
In 2005, all of the West of England authorities and Parish Councils which would be ‘affected’ agreed to formally extending the Forest of Avon’s boundary to all of Avon outside the Area’s of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The detailed strategy does not include this additional area, but Community Forest principles of strategic (and coherent) landscape enhancement, community involvement and partnership working can be applied to it. The Forest of Avon Trust can advise on this.
For advice on how the Forest of Avon Community Forest can provide a framework for sustainable development in the west of England sub-region (Avon), please contact Jon Clark (CMLI MRTPI) here.
The Forest Plan can be accessed in the document viewer below: