The forum has its origins in a group formed soon after the October 1987 storm to help co-ordinate effort and avoid duplication. Representatives then included the Forestry Commission, estates, woodland owners, other NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and local authorities. Meetings continued as and when needed after the initial storm restoration work.
With the forthcoming Hedgerows Regulations in 1997, a separate group was formed to respond to the consultations and proposals. The two groups merged to form the Trees, Woodlands and Hedgerows Group with representatives from a wide range of organisations.
Aims and objectives
These are very similar to the other woodland fora in the region:
• Provide a central point for the exchange of information. The focus will be about woodland but can include other land based and environmental issues, particularly hedgerows.
• Increase awareness of the issues concerning woodlands and their management.
• Provide a means to discuss and consult with a wide range of woodland stakeholders to help inform future decisions and direction.
In partnership with West Sussex County Council, the Forestry Commission now manages the group in terms of providing a Chair, location and agenda. Meeting twice a year the agenda will include a number of short presentations from invited participants followed by questions and discussion. The aim is for an informal atmosphere that encourages input and debate.
Woodland owners; professional forestry agents and organisations such as the Woodland Trust, RSPB, Sussex Wildlife Trust, NFU, Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre, Forestry Societies, Natural England, The Tree Council, AONB staff, local authority tree officers, and county level organisations.
Meeting venues vary across the county and an outdoor meeting is usually held during the summer. There are plans to hold a joint meeting with the Surrey Woodland Forum in 2011. Indoor meetings cover current issues with invited speakers giving presentations about their particular areas of expertise.