Community woodland enterprises and social enterprises

There is increasing policy interest in the development of woodland-based social enterprises, as well as the development of businesses by community groups and community woodland owners.  Empirical evidence from our case study research and early scoping work including 19 case studies (Stewart 2011) across Wales, Scotland and England shows that:

  • Around 15-20% of community woodlands are developing some kind of enterprise
  • Enterprises and social enterprises involve the sale of products (firewood is significant) as well as services (education is significant)
  • Community benefit enterprises are staffed by community members and generate benefits for the local community
  • Not all woodland-based social enterprises are community based
  • Social enterprises in community woodlands may generate social and environmental benefits beyond the local community
  • A variety of business model are employed including open market trading, as well as working in partnership with larger business concerns
  • A majority of community groups continue to rely on fund raising as their main source of income.

The main barriers to enterprise and social enterprise development are identified as:

  • start-up costs
  • need for woodland management skills and training
  • need for business management skills
  • community understanding and ability to act on legal issues
    dealing with bureaucracy.

Publications

The research to date is published as:

Woodland based-social enterprise(PDF-186KB)

Ambrose-Oji, B., Lawrence, A. and Stewart, A. (2014). "Community based forest enterprises in Britain: two organising typologies." Forest Policy and Economics 

Stewart, A. (2011). Woodland related Social Enterprise: Enabling factors and barriers to success. Farnham, Surrey, Forest Research

O’Brien, E. (2005). "Bringing together ideas of social enterprise, education and community woodland: the Hill Holt Wood approach." Scottish Forestry 59: 7-14

Contact

Bianca Ambrose-Oji