Thursday, 12 April 2018

UPDATE ON PARK WOOD



Events are unlikely to continue in Park Wood.  This includes the valued Easter Egg Hunt.   Work by Friends of Park Wood  may  cease in the wood.  This is because the Woodland Trust (WT) insist on an agreement being signed by the Friends of Park Wood (FoPW)  which limits their activities. 
What the FoPW do
What will be allowed by the WT or what will happen if FoPW finishes


Paths - maintained and repaired to ensure pushchair and disabled access
NO.  They must remain as per other WT woods, although the majority are not thoroughfares.  They will be reviewed once a year.  Access will therefore become limited

Funding - Applied for funds from local sources (normally not available to WT)  to pay for Public Liability Insurance; events; tools; refreshments etc

NOT ALLOWED to apply for funding unless the WT give approval for it to go ahead.  Without funding for the PLI the FoPW cannot operate
Events -  put on in the wood for the community
NO unless permission sought a year in advance and it fits in with the WT programme which will not be shared with FoPW.

Litter - FoPW wardens collect litter.  Litter collected at Workday.  Bins emptied by FoPW volunteers.

This will CEASE if FoPW closes.  WT will do a litter pick twice a year.  Nobody to empty bins
Use of Chainsaws and strimmers  - Volunteers have used this equipment to remove trees that cross paths and to tidy edges of paths.  Volunteers had to have  Chainsaw certificates
Chainsaw use BANNED.  Strimmer training was provided to volunteers by WT but it is still unclear as to whether  volunteers will be able to use strimmers as this decision keeps changing.

Mowing of Meadows - Equipment hired and paid for  by FoPW .  Used by volunteers

BANNED by WT.  They pay for contractors to do the work.
Connection with local business
Will stop if FoPW  closes

If you feel strongly about keeping this pretty wood for the community in its present state you can tell  Beccy Speight     Chief Executive of the Woodland Trust
                chiefexecutiveoffice@woodlandtrust.org.uk

The FoPW have always worked in partnership with the WT to achieve their aims and ensure the good condition of the wood for the benefit of the local community.  It will be a shame that the restrictions that will be laid down will mean the Friends will no longer be able to operate and will most likely close.  Why would an organisation who has willing volunteers spend money bringing in contractors to do the work .  Do they have too much money??

Taken from the WT  "Join us on the Journey to 2025 strategy" Leaflet
**The Woodland Trust (WT) have developed a set of goals and are keen to look for parties to help meet the challenges that have been set.**
 Connecting with Urban audiences 
 The FoPW encourages local community use of the 8 acre wood
·         Helping to raise funds
                   Since 2005 FoPW have raised about  £18000  not including the initial Heritage grants to set the group up and also membership fees and local resident donations etc.  The funding has come from local councillors, councils, sponsorship, businesses and local funding streams.  Many not available to the Woodland trust.  The FoPW have been told that before they apply for funding they must seek permission of the WT.  This will take time and in many cases the opportunities will vanish.  Without this funding the FoPW will be unable to pay for their PLI, health and safety requirements, tools, refreshments for volunteers etc. If the WT is keen for help to raise funds, why would they stop or hinder this?

·         Engaging with potential supporters
                The FoPW have encouraged businesses and organisations to support the wood. Why would the WT want to stop this

·         Planting more trees in places that make a difference
                The FoPW have planted many trees in the wood financed by the funding they have raised.  The trees have replaced many dead trees or laurel that was removed at the start.  The purchase and siting of the trees was always agreed with the WT. Why would the WT want to stop something that enhances the wood for future generations,  has not cost them any money and they have previously approved

·         Protecting ancient woodland and restoring whole landscapes
                Park Wood has a 'good range of ancient yews' (noted on WT website)  It is one of only a few woods where the yews self generate.  Why would the WT not want to ensure the local community  has good access to such an incredible wood?

**With such wide and varied challenges, these partners will also be many and varied.  We hope they will include: **
·         Companies:  FoPW has had support from any local companies
·         Local Authorities: FoPW has had support from both Havant Bough Council and Hampshire County council
·         Volunteers:  Not only are there the volunteers that come to workdays, numbers ranging from 10 to 30.  There are also those that are 'wardens' who regularly walk the woods looking for litter and reporting back to warden co-ordinator if anything suspicious is found i.e fires, camping etc.  There are also those volunteers who regularly empty the litter bins where dog owners put their poo bags.  And you mustn't  forget the guides/scouts etc who come in regularly to help look after the wood.  Also those businesses who have brought in their staff to work.
·         Funders:  The work done by the FoPW has been paid for from funders in the local area, thereby saving the WT money.

The Friends of Park Wood  was formed 18 years ago to work in conjunction with the Woodland Trust to transform an overgrown an inaccessible wood into the community woodland enjoyed by all today  at Park Wood, London Road Waterlooville.  It continues to have a membership of nearly 100 local families  and runs active monthly workdays, runs events and  encourages community use.  A year ago the Woodland Trust decided that the way of working needed to be formalised and asked the Friends to sign an agreement which was felt to be entirely reasonable.  A discussion on this agreement has been underway for a year.  If the agreement is not signed the group cannot operate. The Friends feel that the work they do complies and enhances the vision of the WT.  BUT the WT has informed FoPW that even signing the agreement they  will not be considered volunteers of the WT which means no access to the volunteer website or immediate updates on important Health and safety information. This is even though FoPW  comply with the rules set down and only work according to the management plan supplied by the WT.  The Friends have Public Liability Insurance which they pay for. Their Health and safety complies fully with WT.  Risk Assessments comply.  BUT they will no longer be able to apply for funding without permission from WT.  They cannot maintain the paths.  They cannot run any events (including the successful Easter Egg Hunt) unless a year's notice is given and the event 'fits in' with the programme of the WT.  The list continues.  The surprising thing is this volunteer group has run successfully for 18 years, but the WT will not promote this success; they will not broadcast this to  encourage more volunteers.  Surprising??

The WT has been intransigent in finding any compromises in working with FoPW and the shame is that the wood will quickly deteriorate.  A visit 2/3 times a year with WT volunteers will not keep it as the beautiful woodland that it is  presently .  Already paths are no longer easily passable as the Friends have  not been allowed to maintain them for the past year.  Without good pathways,  access will be limited. Pushchairs and disabled access will no longer be possible
Please note that the Woodland Trust is working towards 'Investors in Volunteering'!

If you have a view on this and would like to support your local wood you can always email:
Kerry Clarke       Head of Volunteering and Engagement at the Woodland Trust                                                                                   kerryclarke@woodlandtrust.org.uk
or
Beccy Speight     Chief Executive of the Woodland Trust
                                chiefexecutiveoffice@woodlandtrust.org.uk


Friends of Park Wood:  Park-wood.org






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