Established in 1998, the project (previously known as the Community Contracting Initiative or CCI) supports a number of Friends of the Woodland groups in Merseyside and North Cheshire by providing officer support, training and grants. Additional objectives include encouraging new community groups to help manage woodlands in the Forest, and identifying woodlands that would benefit from the involvement of local people.
The benefits of getting people involved in caring for their local woodland can be huge:
Prior to the "Friends of the Woodlands" project, the only support available to local groups was through occasional grants for small events from various organisations. Many groups had no long-term plan and worked on an event to event basis, leading to a "feast or famine" scenario in terms of support and funding. Groups felt that consistent support was the key – and that it was not always about needing funds, but instead about having someone to turn to for help.
Hence the "Friends of the Woodlands" project was born, with sustained support provided to a number of community groups by The Mersey Forest's Community Officer and complemented by other partner organisations.
Groups are helped to manage their activities, and if groups want to develop larger projects, then The Mersey Forest's Community Officer is able to provide help with fundraising from a range of sources such as INOVYN, the Family Tree Scheme (private donations), or other grant schemes. In return for this support, groups are asked to help promote the work of The Mersey Forest and report back on activities on a yearly basis.
Find out more about what our Friends of Woodlands groups have been getting up to, or get involved on our community groups page.