Community Woodlands and Forestry


Community woodlands and community involvement in forestry is a fast evolving and increasingly significant sector.  The purpose of this research is to explore how communities and community groups involve themselves in the decision making and management of woods and forests, and to summarise evidence about the characteristics, scope and importance of community woodlands and forestry in Great Britain.

Research objectives

  1. To understand the range of experiences, meanings and outcomes of community forestry in Scotland, Wales and England
  2. Investigate the detail of the governance arrangements in different contexts and how these relate to community engagement and empowerment
  3. Describe the development of woodland-based enterprise and social enterprise arising from community woodlands and forestry
  4. Document a range of community woodland and forestry case studies
  5. To disseminate key findings and guidance on models for successful community woodlands and forestry.

Results so far

The research to date has:

  • Clarified concepts of community woods and community forestry in Scotland, England and Wales
  • Investigated the community benefits of the National Forest Land Scheme in Scotland
  • Investigated the role of local authorities in community forestry
  • Classified the range of groups and woodland management approaches that exist in different country contexts
  • Reviewed the evidence of benefits and outcomes from different forms of community forestry
  • Described and characterised community woodland-based enterprises and social enterprises
  • Facilitated and documented the support needs of community woodland groups in England
  • Undertaken more than 40 case studies


  • This research started in 2008 and ends in 2015.
  • Case study research is on-going
  • Analysis of the benefits of community woodlands and approaches to woodland management is ongoing.


Dr Bianca Ambrose-Oji

Funders and partners

This work is funded by the Forestry Commission with additional support from:

  • Forestry Commission Scotland
  • Community Woodlands Association
  • Llais Y Goedwig
  • The Mersey Forest
  • Small Woods Association
  • Silvanus Trust
  • The Woodland Trust 

Forestry Commission policy 

Public engagement is included in theScottish Forest Strategy through a commitment to public consultation enabling the public to have input into local and national plans and strategies, and through partnership working with communities.

In England the Government’s Forestry Policy Statement recognises that civil society organisations and the wider public all have a role to play in achieving aspirations around woodland creation and management, tree health, and economic development of the forestry sector.