England

Woodland sites to be transformed for social enterprise use

Hill Holt Wood
Image caption Up to 50 social enterprise projects could receive funding as part of the scheme

Up to 50 projects across the UK could receive funding to help transform unmanaged woodland for community use.

The Big Lottery Fund is giving more than £1m to the Plunkett Foundation for its Making Local Woods Work project.

The aim is to provide sustainable employment, training and leisure facilities.

A social enterprise on the Lincolnshire/Nottinghamshire border is one of the places being used as a blueprint for the scheme.

The Plunkett Foundation said woodland social enterprises were beginning to emerge as a way of tackling a wide range of issues.

'Unusual construction'

Chief Executive Peter Couchman said: "This important work will help to support a range of social enterprises to bring woodlands into active management, increase their use and ultimately help more people to enjoy and benefit from woodlands."

He said new enterprises would mirror existing schemes like Hill Holt Wood, near Norton Disney, Lincolnshire.

Hill Holt offers alternative education for children excluded from school, training for the unemployed, countryside management courses, crafts, and "unusual" methods of construction.

Its founders, Nigel and Karen Lowthrop, started transforming 14 hectares (34.5 acres) of run-down woodland in 1995.

More than 10 businesses now operate at Hill Holt, employing about 40 people.

Mr Lowthrop said as well as providing opportunities for the "long-term management of the woods", the Plunkett Foundation project would play an important role in creating jobs.

Image caption Hill Holt provides training in traditional skills such as wood carving

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