Partnerships have been critical to our success so far and form an important part of our future plans. Some of our key partners are:
The Trust have been great supporters of Vert Woods right from the start of this project, Jim Wright-Smith was the Woodland Trust’s PAWS Project Restoration Officer for the Weald. He has helped many local woodland owners to network, get to know and support each other. He also produced several important reports on Vert Woods, helping us understand more about the environment here.
The Trust also gave us a £10,000 grant for Community Woods and invited us as speakers at their bi-annual Staff Conference in 2017.
Students from Plumpton’s forestry department, training in tree cutting and chainsawing, have played an important role in helping us start to implement our management plan. They have thinned younger trees, cut more mature ones and opened up important spaces that now provide more light and consequently improve the vitality of the forest. The College also run specialist courses in the woods.
A number of experts from the Wildlife Trust have visited the woods and written short reports helping us better understand the wide and interesting biodiversity that we have. These included a full list of species – fauna and flora – and details of the unique wet woodlands found here.
In Victorian times Vert Woods was a popular place for butterfly enthusiasts, who would travel from London to trap and collect them. While many species have now died out, the Sussex branch of Butterfly Conservation is actively trying to support and reintroduce rare ones. Neil Hulme, from the butterfly reserve that borders Vert Woods, has also offered advice and support.
Our first official tenant in the woods, CLR is a long established Community Interest Company that offers a wide range of educational, training and experiential opportunities in nature. Its dynamic boss, Marina Robb, is also a member of our CBS management committee and has given her experience freely. The sound of children laughing a and playing is a welcome addition to the sounds of Vert Woods.
We have been involved in the foundation’s Lottery-funded project, Making Local Woodlands Work, since October 2015. During that time we have had lots of great advice, some excellent specialist consultancy and attended workshops. We have also been given particular help in setting up our CBS and the legal work to develop a lease.
Our local Parish Councils have been supportive in a number of ways, allowing us to talk and update them on our work, and also offer us some small financial support and woods related work. Sue Redshaw the Laughton Tree Warden and a member of our Advisory Group, writes regularly for a number of the local parish magazines on developments in the woods.