Community Woodland Network

Interested in woodlands?  Want to use more sustainable energy?  Not afraid of a bit of hard work?  Then this just might interest you…

Many of Dorset’s smaller woodlands are not managed in any way.  This might be OK if they were large enough to work on their own, but many are so small that they need a little helping hand every now and then.  For instance, they may need their old hazel coppiced so that it can still support the dormice that call them home, or some of the footpaths might need widening to give space to some of the woodland butterflies, or occasionally a larger tree will need to be felled to create some diversity in the structure for the woodland birds.

But woodlands are not just spaces to manage for wildlife, they can also provide us with sustainable, renewable heat through firewood that is dry and the right species for burning hot and that also hasn’t had to travel miles and miles to get to Dorset!  They are also inspirational places where you can find peace.  And they are also helping to combat climate change by locking up carbon as they grow.

Nine community groups in the CLS area can see the potential in sustainably managing woodlands and have come together to form a small network of community woodlands.   These groups are at different stages of development, from the well-established to just a good idea but with grand plans, but by working together we can help make them a success – and you can help too, by giving a little time every now and then to help manage the woods. 

So you see that by doing a little in a wood, you can help a lot.  You can help protect woodland wildlife, heat your home in a sustainable way, get creative and be inspired as well as help tackle climate change.  What’s not to like?!

If you want to find out more about the community woodland network, please get in touch with Ian Rees, Dorset AONB Countryside Officer, Dorset AONB, 01305 228235.

But if you want to get stuck in straight away, you can find details of a community woodland near you below:

Spyway Wood, Askerswell
Richard is in the process of planting a new woodland and wildflower meadow.  If you would like to help, please get in touch with Richard Toft on

Little Giant Wood, Stoke Abbott
Little Giant Wood is about 15 years old and need of a little TLC.  The Parish are establishing a calendar of working parties and events: autumn and winter will focus on woodland management and spring and summer on family activities and woodland events, such as bat walks and fungi talks.
Please contact Matthew Bowditch if you want to find out more on

Prime Coppice, Marshwood Vale
Kit and Ruth have established a New Working Woodlanders Group that meets throughout the year in this beautiful ancient woodland.  Contact Ruth Fuller to find out more on or visit

Cooper's Wood and Field, Bridport
Allington Hill, Cooper’s Wood and Field Community Group (Allington Hillbillies) run regular work parties on Allington Hill, Cooper’s Wood and Field.  These work parties focus on woodland and grassland management, but they also host a variety of community events such as photographic workshops and are happy to work with local children’s groups on outdoor activities.  Email Cathy Harvey on or get in touch via Facebook to find out more.

Hooke Park, Beaminster
Common Ground is establishing a community group at Hooke Park with the Architectural Associations.  There will be traditional management opportunities available, but also an exploration of the wider benefits of being in woodlands – from craft and design through to health and wellbeing. Email Adrian Cooper on if you are interested in getting involved.

Dorchester Community Woodland, Dorchester 
Transition Town Dorchester are building on the success of their community farm and are now managing a few small pockets of woodland around Poundbury.  So if you would like to meet new people, get fit and do environmental conservation contact Kate Forrester on

Beaminster School Woods, Beaminster
Two of the school woodlands are now under the care of Michael, who manages them for access and for woodfuel that is available to the local community.  If you would like to give a little time to help Michael manage the two woodlands, contact Michael Dower on

Piddle Valley woodlands, Piddletrenthide
The parish are looking at options that will help the local residents to access sustainably produced local firewood.  If you think you can help, get in touch with Dot Browning on

Maiden Newton woodlands, Maiden Newton
The parish are looking at options community woodland options.  If you think you can help, get in touch with Neville Higman on

The Community Woodland programme is being coordinated by Ian Rees, Dorset AONB Countryside Officer, Dorset AONB 01305 228235

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