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Two publicly-owned woods rescued from neglect in Beaminster, Dorset, England, UK

An example of a voluntary initiative aiming at making use of local ressources.

Rural topic(s): Sustainable forestry

Type: Narrative story

Date of writing: June 27, 2016

Author(s) of this page: Michael Dower


This describes a private, voluntary initiative aiming at making use of local ressources (firewood) and providing further multiple benefits to society and wildlife through management of woodlands.


Description of activities

Setting. Beaminster is a small city in the Civil Parish of West Dorset in the South West of England. The objects of management are 2 woodlands owned by the local school, planted in 1995 (located in a designed conservation area) respectively 2005.

Personal motivation. In order not to buy firewood I wanted to cut my own firewood. Opposite my house was a small woodland owned by The Beaminster School Wood is located opposite to my house and so making use of it seemed likely.

Aims of the management.

Shelter and screening as primary purposes.

Firewood and long-term timber as strong secondary purposes.

Woodland management activities.

Coppicing, thinning.

Management plan had to be set up for the woodland located in the conservation area.


Challenges. How to keep continuity in a setting that is based only on voluntary work and how to find a balance between benefits and draw backs of public access (vandalism, protection of firewood). And: Getting a clear picture about the balance of benefits and to adapt the management to produce those benefits.

Next steps. We aim to gradually enrich the woodland habitat, by introduction of further tree species.

We will create a team of volunteers for long-term maintenance of the wood, and hope to offer woodmanship training in the School curriculum.

We will try to reduce vandalism.


Information gathered at: the 1st workshop on Sustainable Forest Management (17-20 March 2016) - presentation given during the Market of Initiatives


Contact: Michael Dower

E-mail: mdower6(a)btinternet.com



Scale of intervention : Local

Keywords: woodland management, thinning, firewood, improvement of biodiversity, coppicing

Places: United-Kingdom

Actors: private sector, inhabitants

Methods: raising awareness, voluntary work