An Inspirational Working Community Woodland


‘Our Mission is to Restore, Create and Maintain an inspirational working Community Woodland that puts Nature at the heart of decisions. We seek to establish a self-sustaining and thriving woodland culture that connects people with their natural environment.’

Welcome to Vert Woods Community Woodland (VWCW)!

VWCW is 171 acres of mixed woodland – officially described as PAWS (Plantation on Ancient Woodlands) – located near Laughton Village, 10 miles from Lewes in East Sussex. We are located in a much larger area of woodland, making up about 30% of the approximately 250 hectares of total woodland.

In Spring 2015 the land came up for sale as a large block. A number of local small woodland owners, users and lovers of woodlands came together and wondered if we could secure the land for community ownership and benefit. We persuaded a local philanthropist Roger Ross to work with us and put the money up for the sale process. Roger has secured a number of other land based projects for public benefit and he was very sympathetic to what we were trying to achieve.

2017 Educational Walk in The Woods sharing a joke LRes
Members of the VWCW Management Committee review our Woodland Management Plan.

Once secured, we then set about organising ourselves. A Steering Group of 12 people was set up, including local people, foresters, small woods owners, Nature teachers and wildlife experts started to meet monthly to thrash out what we were trying to achieve and take the critical steps towards making that a reality.

Key Tasks included:

  • Understanding what we have in the woods
  • Preparing a woodland management plan
  • Discussing the best option for a legal basis to run the woods
  • Agreeing and where possible enacting any critical safety and urgent management issues
  • Developing a business plan
  • Fundraising

Other parts of the web site will bring you up to date with progress on these tasks, but suffice to say, by spring 2017:

  • A Community Benefit Society (CBS) had been registered by the Financial Conduct Authority and a Management Committee membership agreed.
  • A Woodland Management Plan had been written and agreed to by the Forestry Commission.
  • Our first funding had been given by the Woodland Trust.
  • A Planning Application had been submitted and approved for essential ‘permitted development’ items such as a forest road, compost loos and storage and bad weather structures.
  • A sustained set of tree thinning has taken place through our key partner Plumpton College, allowing in light and improved access.
  • Our first tenant has been in the woods since February 2016, bringing in innovative work on woodland management with special needs groups.
2017 Tom and Stewart excavate the rails in Lower Vert Wood LRes
Discovering the old narrow gauge railway tracks, used to move timber in the 1960s.