The fourth annual Community Woodland conference took place in Bettyhill, Sutherland, in November 2002. The conference took the significant decision to set up the Community Woodland Association (CWA) as the democratic umbrella body for Scottish Community Woodlands. This body will enable the community woodland sector to speak on its own behalf in the corridors of power, to other organisations in the social, environmental and economic sectors, the press and to the wider Scottish community.
The proposal to establish the CWA under the auspices of Reforesting Scotland was determined by the Steering Group after a nation-wide consultation of Community Woodland groups, which took place during September 2002.
Since its establishment in 1989, Reforesting Scotland has been at the forefront in promoting the involvement of people in forests in Scotland to obtain the best environmental, economic and social benefits. The organisation has provided invaluable support to Community Woodland groups for the last four years by organising the annual conference, providing information and keeping groups in touch by newsletter and e-mail.
Representatives of the Reforesting Scotland Board of Directors, who were also present at the conference gave their support to the proposals. After discussion, the proposals were accepted by a virtually unanimous vote, and a new interim Steering Group was appointed.
The mission of the CWA is:
The Steering Group membership covers the length and breadth of Scotland.
The Members are:
Margaret Davidson and Les Bates are also members of the Reforesting Scotland Board of Directors. Nick Marshall is the Reforesting staff link on the Steering Group.
The CWA will only succeed if it can attract wide membership support, and it is important that as many Community Woodland groups as possible join. Membership benefits and fee levels have been identified as the critical factors affecting membership uptake and are being worked on as a matter of urgency. Membership benefits may include a training programme (with subsidised places) as well as special rates on jointly purchased goods and services.
A leaflet will be produced to outline the aims and objectives of the CWA, and to give ideas of membership benefits. In the coming months, members of the Steering Group plan to visit as many Community Woodland groups as possible to find out what they would like the CWA to achieve, and to explore how local groups can benefit from membership of the Association.
The formal launch of the CWA will take place on March 31st 2003. It is hoped to hold high profile celebration events in Edinburgh and in locations in the south and north of the country. It has also been decided to hold a national Community Woodland celebration day on June 21st 2003, with profile raising, fun, open days taking place at as many Community Woodlands as possible.
The CWA will help to raise funds for a full time Community Woodland Association project officer. In the short term, sources of funding will be sought for CWA member training and for support of the launch events. It is hoped that local groups will also be willing to provide some level of support - either through funds or in kind.
The formation of the CWA is just the start of a significant movement in Scotland. Community woodland voices will start to be heard in the corridors of power, and will start to make their mark. If you would like to find out more, make suggestions, or voice your opinion, please contact Nick Marshall at the Reforesting Scotland office or one of the following regional contacts.
UPDATED - has been established http://www.communitywoods.org/