Director Paul Nolan, gave a warm welcome before introducing Woodland Trust's Rachael Cranch and Kerry Clarke, who gave an overview of the Community Woodland Northern Pilot Project and the links to the Tree Charter.
Angela Williams followed with an inspiring insight into Scottish community woodlands. As a director of Community Land Scotland, Angela gave a fascinating overview into the politics and progress of community woodland north of the border. Using the title "A woodland that pays is a woodland that stays" Angela presented two case studies including Knoydart Forest Trust on the remote west coast which manages 919ha of woodland.
Four very different case studies of communtiy woodland nearer to home included Alan Redley who spoke about the work being undertaken by Friends of Anderton and Marbury. This volunteer group support the ranger service at Northwich Woodlands, and who have been operating a wood allotment group since 2012.
Kevin O Hanlon and Jan Baird from Friends of Mill and Alder Wood, spoke passionately about the challenges and rewards of managing an ancient semi-natural woodland in Speke, south Liverpool. Brian Newall and Jonathan Halstead told of their experience developing Sefton Wood Allotments Association. Finally, Graham Sweet from Church Wood Conservation Group gave an account of their 20 years of woodland management in Whitegate, Cheshire.
To round up the presentations, a brief overview of wood allotments was given by Community Forester, Yendle Barwise, who joined the Mersey Forest team last month.
After a well earned break, a workshop followed, the results of which included valuable feedback on the support that prospective wood allotment groups require, as well as advice about successful community woodland management by both land managers and existing group members.
With packed lunches firmly in hand, the day was rounded off with a site visit to Spud Wood, in Lymm to see wood allotments in action. Woodland Trust's site manager Neil Oxley introduced to Jo Yellen from the Friends of Spud Wood CIC Wood Allotment Group. The attendees could clearly see the remarkable improvements that wood allotments have made to the health of the wood, as well as watching allotment members hard at work as they weaved their wheelbarrows through the wood to collect their logs.
Back at Risley Moss, contact details were shared over a cuppa before everyone went on their way. All seemed to consider the event a success, and this success was due in no small part to the input and active engagement by each individual. Thanks to all who came, and particularly to the speakers.