What's Going On?

First of all apologies for the gap in newsletters. There has been a number of important projects ongoing over the last few months which are now stable and mature enough to give you an update.

The abrupt end of the season in March meant we didn't really wrap-up in the usual way and contact with everyone has been difficult, but we have some exciting news on a number of fronts which we can now share with you and hopefully get your views on.

The group is going from strength to strength, our reputation as a volunteer woodland management organisation has ensured we have been able to create and grow excellent working relationships with The National Forest Company, The Woodland Trust, NWLDC and lately the Blunt family who own huge swathes of woodland in the Coleorton and Staunton Harold estates.

The production of charcoal has expanded out of all proportion mainly due to the co-operative relationship we have with Darren at "Abell-To". The market for charcoal has been developed and is now providing a strong income stream for the group.

If anyone would like to discuss any aspect of the group please feel free to contact or call me at any time.

Kevin


Membership

Thank you everyone who responded on the subject of introducing a membership fee.

As I mentioned in that email, we have always had a membership fee in mind and indeed it is part of our constitution.

There have been some significant changes within the group over the last few months which mean we need to ensure our income is solid and supports the growth of the group. Some of those changes are outlined under other headings in this newsletter.

We have agreed that a membership fee of £25 is a reasonable amount and gives the group an income that supports us in our long term objective of becoming grant independent. There are grants still available at this time, indeed we have been successful with our application for the woodland management grant from the National Forest again this coming season, but with the current climate we cannot rely on these longer term.

Membership will run from September to September as that is when we hold our AGM. There will be a reduced fee of £40 for couples who attend.

Being a member of Heartwood brings many benefits, not simply the firewood, although we appreciate that is the main driver for many of us. Your membership will:-

  • Give you access to the website and the booking system
  • Allow unlimited attendance at woodfuel sessions
  • Give every member who attends a session the option of the standard boot-load of logs (couples can take two if they have the transport)
  • Access to training within the group
  • Access to other activities we are planning to run at our Headquarters and in the woodland we are hoping to acquire from the Woodland Trust.
  • Skill and knowledge sharing
  • Safety Helmet and High Vis vest issued with membership (first year only)
  • All of the health and well being associated with spending time in the woods with like minded people, making new friends and developing the scope of the group.

There will be further information on how the membership will be managed over the next few months.

Thank you all for such a positive response to the concept of a fee, the feedback we received has helped us manage this carefully with everyone

As a community group we aim to provide access for everyone, so if the membership fee presents a barrier to anyone they should speak to a committee members to ensure we manage this in confidence.


CEEP and Heartwood HQ

There have been significant developments at Hall farm where CEEP are based and where we have been basing the group. During the Lockdown the CEEP directors have decided to close down the centre due to financial difficulties.

Heartwood have been working with CEEP for around three years, so it was with great sadness that we found this out.

As the site at Hall Farm is changing we have been in discussions with the landowners regarding another site for our Headquarters.

I'm please to confirm we have now completed negotiations and agreed a 3 year lease on a 1.8 hectare woodland known appropriately as "Fire Wood". The agreement will see us being able to use the woodland for our charcoal making enterprise, to provide a storage area for our surplus timber and a woodland we can all use as members for other purposes. There is some work to do initially on creating an access and parking for a number of vehicles.

We plan to use what were the "CEEP working party" dates as our Fire Wood working parties. These will resume on the 2nd Friday and the 4th Saturday just as soon as we have access and Covid processes in place. In the meantime if anyone would like to discuss the new woodland please drop me a line or give me a call. It is situated on the Coleorton Estate and accessed from Melbourne Road.


The Coming Season

We are working with the Woodland Trust to ensure the site at Foxley Wood Linton is ready for us to move into. We envisage the first half of the season taking place at Woodcote again, where we aim to complete the thinning by Christmas. In the new year we will move to Linton. We will also be working with Chris Conway again at Donisthorpe with regular monthly sessions.

All of our plans depend on the Covid 19 situation, but rest assured we are already looking at how the sessions could work. Some changes we envisage will be :- individual PPE, self catering on drinks to prevent group use of mugs and tea/coffee flasks etc, management of tool allocation and use and potential limits on numbers, but this will depend on guidance and restrictions at the time.

Let’s all hope restrictions are lifted sufficiently to allow reasonable size sessions so we can deliver on the grant applications we have successfully bid for.


Training - Subject to group needs

You will be aware that last season we were limited on some sessions by the numbers of First Aid trained members. Helen has already contacted the First Aid training delivery agents who have created Covid Safe training packages, which we will be using. Helen will be contacting all of the people who showed an interest in becoming first aid trained last season or who were already booked onto a cancelled course.

Please try to attend if you possibly can to ensure we have the numbers to make sessions effective. Training places will be limited, so if you are interested contact Helen This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Nether Hall Wood

Again we are working with the Woodland Trust to take over full management of this lovely woodland. The level of involvement for us as a management organization will largely depend on the decision to be made by the WT senior management team on the 29th June. As soon as we get feedback from that meeting we’ll get back to you with our plans for the site.

This is an exciting opportunity for Heartwood as we will become the custodians of a community woodland where we can manage the woodland in a sympathetic way whilst using it to develop our members skills and knowledge. The feedback on this from you all was very positive, so once we have the decision from the WT we can get together (perhaps virtually) to discuss our ideas and plans, which we really want as many members as possible to contribute to and be part of.


Organisation & Group Structure

With the ongoing management of woodfuel sessions, a new base at Fire Wood and the management of Nether Hall Wood, we are looking at how we manage these different aspects of the group. Currently with a single committee the scope and coverage will be difficult to manage, so we are looking at a tiered structure which could see specific sub-groups managing the different areas. A good example was the feedback we received on the Nether Hall Wood proposal where a number of people expressed an interest in getting more involved.

This is where we would really like your views, anyone who is interested please contact one of the committee or reply to this newsletter here.


Sounds of the Forest

Timber Update - Sounds of the Forest

Jo Maker of the National Forest TIMBER team dropped us a line with this update

We have some new projects on the go as part of Timber, bridging the gap between this year and 2021 festival. I’m sure at this stage it would be even more full on if the festival was happening, but to be honest it doesn’t feel far off!

I’m dropping you a line about Sounds of the Forest. I expect some of you will know already about this new mass participation audio project to create the world’s first forest soundmap. As we can’t bring people together in person over the Timber weekend this year we are instead creating a different kind of gathering and inviting people to share their forest sounds. We are inviting people to visit their local woodland and record one minute of the sounds they hear. These will come together as a soundmap which will be released online over the weekend that Timber would have taken place and will provide an open source library of forest sounds for anyone to use, including selected Timber artists who will be responding to the recordings and presenting these as apart of Timber 2021.

We have had 143 recordings submitted so far and many from around the world, which is very exciting. But hoping to keep the momentum up so that we have a really good collection to launch the map with and plenty of National Forest sounds in the mix with Germany, Canada, Norway, Australia and Russia.

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