Ground based research in Durham
David Papadopoulos, Durham Woodland Revival & Woodland Trust Community Woods volunteer describes ground-based research he’s been doing since September 2020, on behalf of Rachael Cranch and the Community Woods team.
David has been visiting woodlands around County Durham looking for evidence of community involvement, speaking with locals, and organisational representatives, about their interests and needs for community management of woodlands.
The aim of the research is to look at woodland management from a sustainability and engagement perspective. There are many benefits to be had from local involvement in woodland management; tree-mendous opportunities, you might say. We know that woodlands support communities, and vice versa, in terms of skills development, sustainable careers, community engagement, and responsible stewardship, alongside habitat, carbon management, amenity and well-being spaces.
We want to identify what community groups need in order to manage woodlands in ways that promote and sustain these things. We want to see what people are doing on their own initiative, what challenges they face, and what benefits they focus on, ultimately to identify needs and resources that support local initiatives.
The kinds of things we’re finding so far touch on themes of accessing expertise; finding effective ways of engaging broader segements of the population, and young people specifically; assessing broader risk issues, such as site contamination; addressing capacity issues, identifying the scope of what a group is capable of, and the familiar issues of anti-social behaviour, surges in trail degradation, and litter. Durham’s intensive mining history adds a layer of complexity, given that most mine sites are now woodlands, where landscape character and history is a major part of local woodland appreciation and management.
David liaises with counterparts in other Community Woods areas, and will be presenting more detailed reports in due course.