Forest of Avon: Your Local Community Forest

Forest of Avon: Your Local Community Forest

The Forest of Avon is one of England's Community Forests which were established many years ago with the aim of connecting people with trees locally. 

The Forest of Avon is not a single 'forest' but the combination of the many trees and woodlands across the West of England, formerly Avon - the four counties of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. 

So far, well over a million trees have been planted in the Forest of Avon and many woodlands and access networks have been improved and maintained. 

As part of a network of community forests we can source funding such as through our current Trees for Climate project, Defra funded through England's Community Forests.

We want to enable as many people as possible to access and enjoy the benefits of our trees and community woodlands. 

Community Forests

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).

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. The significant achievements of the National Programme of Community Forests are recognised by national Government, with a number of references to Community Forests in the 25-year Environment Plan and the draft England Forestry Strategy.

Forest of Avon Plan - Updated Plan due to launch in 2021

The Forest of Avon was established in 1992. The Forest’s creation is guided by a 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 formal partnership including the Forestry Commission, the Countryside Agency (now Natural England) and the four West of England authorities in in 1995 and an updated version was created in 2002.

In 2005, partners above and Parish Councils in the ‘affected’ area formally agreed the expansion of the Forest of Avon boundary to include all of the West of England (outside the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds and Mendips). All 4 local authorities agreed Planning Guidance for the Forest of Avon in 2005, although this predates the boundary change. There are also policy references to the Forest of Avon in all 2005 era Local Plans.

The Forest of Avon Plan is being updated right now and will be launched fully by Spring 2021.

Achievements

Guided by the approved Forest Plan, a small Forest of Avon team worked with partners across the area to deliver a wide range of projects. In the period 1992 to 2009, the partnership secured the planting of over a million trees, improved 1,000km of rights of way and other paths, brought over 500ha in to Countryside Stewardship Schemes and involved tens of thousands of volunteers.

Forest of Avon Trust as one of the Community Forests of England

The Forest of Avon Trust has been active since 2009 and this model, honed over 10 years of independently securing funding, remains rooted in working flexibly with diverse partners. We are also successful in drawing down resources, with an attractive, community focused ethos and strong local charity brand.

The charity has a proud track record of delivery and as its funding has increased, has also been able to adopt a more strategic approach. It recently secured funding from the West of England Nature Partnership, Bath & North East Somerset Council and the Woodland Trust to produce an updated Forest of Avon Plan and Tree & Woodland Strategy for the whole of the West of England sub-region (Avon). As stated above this will be released in early 2021.

For more information on the Forest of Avon and how you can help create it, please contact Executive Director Jon Clark here.

The previous Forest Plan can be accessed in the document viewer below:

The Forest Plan Downloadable Resources

Planning Policy Guidance

If you would like to discuss how you may be able to contribute to the creation of the Forest of Avon, please contact Chartered Town Planner and Landscape Architect: Jon Clark

In 2005, the Forest of Avon was formally extended to cover the whole of Avon outside The Cotswolds and Mendips AONBs. Whilst the formal Forest Partnership ended in 2009, the Forest of Avon Trust (an independent charity) was formed to campaign for the strategic principles of the Community Forest and to deliver practical action.

The Forest Plan still has considerable relevance to the Avon area, being conceived, approved and delivered by a broad partnership of organisations and encompassing all aspects of the conservation and enhancement of Avon’s (the West of England’s) countryside.

In 2005, the four Avon (West of England) authorities adopted the following policy guidance:

Highly relevant today, this sets the context for S106/ CIL agreements to create the Forest

Support our Work to Create the Forest of Avon Community Forest