We need your vote!

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Voting is now open for The People’s Projects! Please click here to cast your vote now!

We’re very excited to announce that #thewoodlandproject by Vert Woods’ own Circle of Life Rediscovery is in the running to win almost fifty thousand pounds through The People’s Projects!

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The Woodland Project in East Sussex offers days out in nature for families who have a child with a severe physical or learning disability, families who have a child experiencing mental health issues and 11-18 year olds who are accessing mental health services. The Woodland Project allows these families to spend quality time together, relax in their natural surroundings, free of distractions and judgement.

Run by Circle of Life Rediscovery and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, the project is funded solely through donations and external funding.

The recipient is decided by a public vote so every vote received is vital! Please vote for us here and don’t forget to share our posts on Facebook and Twitter!

‘VERT WOODS: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE’

By Sue Redshaw, Laughton Tree Warden and member of the Vert Woods Community Woodland Steering Group.

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Attendees at our presentation.

Our presentation on the 3 rd February was well-attended with over 60 people gathered in Laughton Parish Hall. We are grateful to all who turned out on a particularly wet and windy night. The feedback that we have received so far would seem to indicate that it was well worth the effort!

I was privileged to introduce the proceedings and gave everyone a warm welcome. I’m not that happy standing up in front of a large audience but, as this event had been my initiative, I felt compelled to do it! I introduced the members of the Vert Woods Community Woodland Steering Group and our speakers, giving a particular mention to Jim Smith-Wright from the Woodland Trust, who has been working with local woodland owners, advising on restoring ancient woodland.

Our presentation started with the ‘past’, so Christine Meadows and Jim took over to talk about the history of our woodlands, defining what is meant by ancient woodland and how to identify the indicative species and archeological remains. Hilary Hinks, an energetic volunteer researcher with the Woodland Trust, has carried out extensive research, notably interviewing Tony Warburton, who worked as Foreman at the Saw Mill in Park Lane, and recording his memories as an exercise in social history. Sadly, Hilary was unable to be with us due to illness but her work is to be produced as a podcast for the Woodland Trust and I will keep you posted on its progress and availability.

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Mavis Warburton holding the photo of herself taken about 50 years ago beside the same Beech Tree. Mavis and her husband Tony lived at Buckle Cottage in Park Lane while Tony was employed at the Sawmill which then operated in Vert Woods.

We then moved on to the ‘present’ with Ian Rideout, Head of Faculty for Forestry, Horticulture and Foundation Learning with Plumpton College, speaking about Plumpton’s involvement with Vert Woods. He started by explaining that Plumpton College is the only full spectrum Forestry and Arboriculture training centre in the south, as well as offering the full range of other land and wine-based courses. (Plumpton wine is available at Waitrose!) They have been working in Vert Woods since 2014 as well as linked woodlands such as Sandpit’s Wood and Pink’s Pines. The students come from a range of courses at various levels, including Countryside Management, Forestry and Ecology, at L2, L3 and degree standard.

Although the college is asked for assistance by lots of landowners, Ian made it clear that it is not just a cheap source of labour. The partnership with Vert Woods works to mutual benefit through mutual effort, whereby the woodland improves as a habitat by selective thinning, the tutors get to work in a ‘training ready’ environment supplied by the Community Woodland and the students get better experience within a well-structured woodland restoration plan. Through this structured partnership and the exposure of young people to working in woods, the woodland and the wider community both benefit.

Ian was followed by Stewart Boyle, who covered some of the educational and community engagement activities already undertaken in Vert Woods. There was then a screening of a short video showing a Chestnut Coppicing Course produced by Stephen Sangster, below.

Marina Robb, director of Circle of Life Rediscovery, was next to speak. Marina has been running ‘The Woodland Project’ to enhance family health in an area of the Community Woodland that she leases for this purpose. Marina emphasised the importance of Nature connection for children and families, who have no access to woodlands and have little opportunity to do things together as a family, particularly when they have a child with complex needs.

There was then a break for refreshments organised by Marion Kemp and Marie-Helene Dalila Boyle, with an opportunity to ask questions and ‘network’!

After the interval, the discussion moved on to the ‘future’ of Vert Woods as Christine Meadows outlined the Woodland Management Plan intended to improve the health and biodiversity of the whole woodland ecology. This Plan has been approved by the Forestry Commission, which is excellent news as we are now able to move forward with its implementation. Finally, Stewart Boyle offered a flavour of the community engagement and share ownership opportunities that will be available later in 2017 via the Community Benefit Society that we arein the process of setting up.

We hope that all attendees found the evening enjoyable and informative. Your feedback would be very welcome! And I would like to add my thanks to all members of the Steering Group, who put in so much time and effort to make this a successful evening.

Great team work!

Friday 3rd February: Vert Woods, Past, Present and Future

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Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Join us for an inspiring evening of talks on your local woodland’s rich history and vibrant future! Aimed at anyone interested in, or involved with, or affected by, Laughton Woods, whether you are a neighbour, a dog walker or simply interested in the Community Woodland, the evening will consist of three talks:

PAST: Hilary Hinks, a volunteer with the Woodland Trust, will give us a potted history of Vert Woods, including the social history obtained from interviews with people who have lived here all their lives.

PRESENT: representatives from Plumpton Agricultural College will explain what the students are learning and achieving in the woods with an introduction to deer management; Marina Robb will talk about ‘Circle of Life’ forest school activities and how Nature Connection benefits families and children; an introduction to Forest Schools; Stewart Boyle will discuss last year’s Sweet Chestnut Coppicing Course to illustrate the sort of courses being run in Vert Woods.

FUTURE: Christine Meadows will present the Vert Woods Woodland Management Plan. Stewart Boyle will talk about the Community Benefit Society (CBS) being set up to manage Vert Woods and what this means for community involvement.

Additional information and how to book.

Tales of Tall Trees – book now for our 23rd of December event!

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Come hear stories and music in the trees of Vert Woods around a big fire!

Circle of Life Rediscovery (CLR) and Vert Woods Community Woodlands (VWCW) invite you for an afternoon of magic, music, stories, and fun, deep in the beautiful Vert Woods near Laughton. Suitable for children of all ages.

Please follow the signs along Park Lane, and you will be lured by musicians and escorted pixies to meet the trees. Once there you will be met with a roaring fire, mulled wine and music. Our chief storyteller Andreas will recount stories of the great oaks, slender birches and abundant sweet chestnuts of Vert Wood, accompanied by various musicians. What do trees really think? It’s your chance to discover this.

Music, mulled wine and dancing will follow.

Please note that the ground underfoot may be muddy or uneven. Bring folding chairs if you think you will want them. There will be cover in the event of bad weather but wrap up.

Bring nibbles and drinks to share.

Booking is important, as only those who sign up can know the secret way! And please let us know how many people will be coming – children count too!

Please consider your impact on the climate as well as the local environment when planning your journey – try to walk or cycle here if you can, share cars with friends or consider offering or accepting a lift on a carsharing website like LiftShare, and follow the parking notices provided on the day. If you do purchase a car ticket please print out the QR code from the email confirmation and display it in your windscreen.

Are you ready for a little Midwinter Magic? Book now!

Our proposed Woodland Management Plan

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On Saturday, 12th November we held a consultation meeting for those local to the Vert Community Wood in Laughton Parish Hall, which was attended by 15 people including 4 members of our Steering Group. The meeting was publicised in Parish Magazines, in local shops and immediate neighbours of Vert Woods were given personal invitations. Attendees included representatives from Laughton, Ringmer and Chiddingly Parish Councils; neighbours in Park Lane and other interested Laughton residents.

Christine Meadows presented a PowerPoint slide show of the draft Woodland Management Plan, which will be submitted to the Forestry Commission in the New Year.  This was not only a great opportunity for everyone to see what is planned but also to make observations and suggestions, to raise concerns and to hear how they might get involved.

A pdf of the presentation can be downloaded here.

The aims of Woodland Management Plan are informed by the Mission Statement, which reads: ‘Our mission is to 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 the natural environment, now and into the Future.’ In other words, the natural environment, its care and well-being, comes first in any plans we have for the woodland. Human involvement will be low-key and non-invasive.

There was general approval for the plans put forward for the woodlands.  The need for management to improve and conserve the habitat was accepted.  Concerns that were raised were more about the peripheral effect of the existence of a Community Woodland.  By creating a beautiful resource in Vert Woods, there will inevitably be more people drawn to the locality.  

So, the main concerns raised were:

additional car movements on Park Lane. Already the residents are feeling the pressure of a lot of passing traffic using the road as a cut through, not only causing damage to the verges but potentially resulting in accidents.  This increase in traffic may well be due to the rise in the use of SatNav, which directs drivers down side roads to cut journey time and avoid congestion.  A double-edged sword! The reality of increased traffic is an issue that also affects Shortgate Lane, so there might be some value in joining forces with Shortgate Lane residents in tackling this problem. A meeting between affected residents, the Parish Council and East Sussex County Council Highways Department may be the way forward.  

– provision of car parking.  There is no doubt that everyone would prefer cars to be parked off the road and would therefore support the provision of car parks but those who lived through the anti-social behaviour at the old Vert Lane car park stressed the difficulty of dealing with the residents who occupied it.  There is a real need to avoid this situation recurring.

fires, especially for those who own houses around the edge of the flammable conifer wood.

deer – where a reduction in numbers to sustainable levels would be supported.

– lack of any indication that this is a Community Woodland with constraints on its usage eg. no fires, no camping, no unauthorised shooting, no 4-wheeled drives.  We recognise that some sort of signage is required.

trees over-hanging road.  This will be addressed by a Tree Safety Survey to be undertaken around the entire boundary of the Community Woodland.

It needs noting that some of these suggestions – provision of car parking; signage; work arising from the Tree Safety Survey; deer culling etc all cost considerable sums of money.  Until we are properly constituted as a Community Benefits Society and are in a position to apply for grants, we do not at present have the resources to carry these out.  We are fortunate to have Plumpton Agricultural College using the woods for their Forestry Courses, which at least means great progress is being made in restoring the actual woodland.

There will be another opportunity to find out more at our next Public event on Friday 27th January, in Laughton Parish Hall, when we will be presenting “Vert Woods: Past, Present and Future”. We have been lucky enough to have a Woodland Trust volunteer, Hilary Hinks, gleaning the historical information which will constitute the ‘Past’ aspect of this evening’s entertainment!

Mission Statement

Our Mission is to Create and Nurture an inspirational 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 Nature, now and into the Future.