These years of community stewardship have transformed our forest. There has been a substantial increase in the number of visitors, including school and community groups, who come to enjoy our network of paths, easy access walks, mountain bike trails, play area, bird hide and tree houses. Our education programme is flexible and works for mainstream schools but also meets alternative curricular requirements.
It always involves experiential learning, plenty of play and usually some physical activity which addresses the health and wellbeing of participants. A new classroom was built in 2007 and provides a base for user groups who are mostly regular visitors.
Many people question public funding of community projects such as the AFT. They feel that the money is being handed out to people who are taking no risk and investing nothing. They also feel that community groups are less cost effective than private and public sector bodies and that they lack the skills to manage a project on this scale. AFT has successfully managed the buy-out and ongoing management of the many aspects of a modern forest.
We have secured funding and consistently carried out very varied work on schedule and to budget with a view to becoming more sustainable. The local community have invested a lot of themselves in the forest without the expectation of a direct personal payback.
We are proud to be used as an example of what land reform can achieve and hope our success will inspire others to become involved in the management of their local environment and the sustainability of their own communities.
To become a member of the Forest Trust, complete the form in the membership section.