As the successful "wood allotment" pilot project at Northwich's Carey Park enters its second year, other local authorities within The Mersey Forest Partnership are lining up to follow Cheshire West and Chester's lead.
The concept allows local stove and fire owners to pay a small fee to harvest logs from their own row of trees in a young woodland. The scheme provides people with cheap, locally sourced renewable fuel, and also provides a valuable service by thinning the growing woodland to ensure its future health.
Working with Cheshire West and Chester Council rangers and The Mersey Forest, members of community group the Friends of Anderton and Marbury have been the first to try their hand at the new pursuit, with Steve Wilde and Brenda Yates writing a very positive review of their experience in the group's newsletter:
"The trees are a manageable size, a challenge rather than a trial.
"The weather has largely been kind to us, and it has been a joy to be up there in 'our' little patch of trees, with views over the town centre and the river. In fact we are showing signs of addiction!"
The success of the pilot has meant that local authorities in Knowsley, Sefton and Liverpool are now interested in developing wood allotments of their own, and have identified suitable sites which they hope to have up and running soon.
Wood allotments offer a good way to engage new audiences with local woodlands, and the schemes can work in a variety of ways, with flexibility for site owners to adapt the core idea to fit local circumstances.
The Mersey Forest Team is currently developing an online hub for wood allotments in the region. On the new website, potential "allotmenteers" will be able to browse existing wood allotments and contact the landowner, or can suggest where they would like to see new wood allotments, helping to build up a map of demand. The site is due to launch in early 2013 at www.woodallotments.com.
Interested in taking part at Carey Park?
The Carey Park pilot is still open for newcomers. Participants in the project must be members of the Friends of Anderton and Marbury (find out how to join) and must undertake a short induction on site in the felling and removal of the trees. To get involved or find out more, contact Marbury Country Park rangers on 01606 77741.