It’s been a while since I provided an update to everyone on what’s going on within the Heartwood Community Woodfuel Group, aside from the woodfuel sessions we have been running this season which you all know about.

A number of important areas are being progressed within the committee which were not clear or confirmed, but now they have progressed further it’s a good time to share these with you and get your views.

We asked the senior National Forest team for a meeting to look at their strategy/objectives and to share our group’s aspirations. This meeting took place on the 11th January and was a very productive meeting. The NFC view Heartwood as an important player in the voluntary sector of woodland management. There is a place for commercial management and the skilled small wood owners who are finding their place in the NFC plans, but there is a gap emerging in the management of woods that fall outside of these areas. The NFC would like us to work closely with them to understand this sector and help them develop a plan to manage woodlands in the National Forest. We have committed to work with the NFC to develop our relationship and plans during the Spring and Summer ready for next season.

You may have seen publicity for a new woodland festival called “TIMBER”. This is a joint project between the NFC and a company called “Wild Rumpus”. We have been asked if we would like to work with the project team to provide firewood for the festival. If you take a look at the “TIMBER” festival site or indeed at Wild Rumpus you will see what the concept involves. For HCWG it potentially gives us a great outlet for timber sales to bring in revenue and engage with the community. We will be meeting Wild Rumpus next week, so more details to follow.

To prepare for involvement in “TIMBER” we will need to fell, season and store woodfuel quickly. We are planning to run a couple of “volunteer only sessions” where we run woodfuel days, but, are you sitting down? We DON’T take wood home we take it away and store it for the group. This leads me on to a new relationship with CEEP (Community Education and Enterprise Project). This team have a site just outside Ashby and have agreed to work with us to meet the TIMBER festival commitment if/when we make it. They have storage space and a woodland of their own. I will give more details on the project in the near future, but if you are on Facebook or Twitter have a search for them and look at what they do.

Finally with the group growing at a steady rate (we now have around 90 people on the books with around 60 active members) we have lots of opportunities. If you want to get more involved in whatever capacity whether it’s the committee, tree marking, leadership or more days in the woods planning etc please let me know. There is lots to do and most of it involves very enjoyable time spent in the woods. We know there are many varied skills within the group, if you want to share yours and evolve the group further please contact me and have a chat – there no commitment beyond what you want to do.

In summary we are going through exciting times within the group. Thank you for making it a success. Our reputation is spreading and it’s your effort and commitment that has taken us to where we are…….there’s lots to do.

Chairman HCWG