What are the key factors for successful woodland social enterprises?
The Forestry Commission are all committed to sustainable local and community development and cohesion. Support for woodland-based social enterprises is a relatively new approach. Forest Research studied several case studies to describe the activities and impacts of these organisations, looking at barriers to, and drivers of, their success.
- Available financing, typically in the form of grants or loans
- Non-financial support from civil society agencies and public bodies such as the Forestry Commission
- Sufficient existing capacity within communities, including experience, knowledge and time
- A clear demand for services and/or goods offered
- Strong leadership and the ability of key members of an enterprise to work together
- The use of the community right to buy law and the National Forest Land Scheme in Scotland
- Imposition of bureaucratic hurdles and institutional barriers by public bodies
- Public sector procurement and asset transfer processes which assess ‘best value’ in only economic terms
- Complex governance if enterprises register as charities but create a trading subsidiary
- Joined-up thinking across government departments and policy
- Adequate financing of support services
- Giving social enterprises the same tax benefits as charities
- Recognition of non-charitable social enterprises by grant bodies
- Less restrictive right to buy in Scotland
- Creation of a social enterprise leadership training programme
- Changes to public commissioning, procurement and asset transfer processes
- A standardised framework for monitoring and evaluating benefits and impacts
- A dedicated funding mechanism for woodland-related social enterprises
- Long-term leases of the public forest estate to communities across the UK
- Greater priority to the use of the public forest estate to support social enterprises
Funders and partners
Commissioned and funded by the Forestry Commission.
This project ran from 2009-2011.