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New green apprentices blossom in Wyre Forest

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children working on fencing posts

A new forestry apprenticeship scheme has been launched in the Wyre Forest as part of a 4m initiative designed to protect and promote the region’s unique woodland landscape.

Four green apprentices have been appointed by the Forestry Commission and the Small Woods Association to help deliver ambitious plans to restore and conserve the built and natural features of the Wyre Forest.

Led by the Forestry Commission, the ‘Grow With Wyre’ Landscape Partnership Scheme, comprises of 18 projects which include orchard restorations, butterfly surveys and wildlife habitat improvements.

During their two-year training schemes, the apprentices will work with many of the partners involved to learn all the practical skills needed to become forest craftsmen including planting, felling and extracting timber. They will also be taught traditional forest management skills such as coppicing to help keep these techniques alive.

The course will be run in conjunction with Herefordshire College of Technology in Holme Lacy and each apprentice will complete an NVQ Level 2 in Forestry.

The first two recruits – Martin Dagger, 21, who is from Bristol, and 18-year-old Paul Teague from Worcester – began work in September. A further two candidates will be selected next year.

Bob Griffiths, Programme Manager for the 'Grow With Wyre' scheme, says:

“This is very much a partnership project so the new apprentices will be working with lots of different organisations to help make the Wyre Forest an even more appealing place to visit.

“We’ve identified that some of the traditional forestry skills are dying out so this is a wonderful way of passing these skills down to the new generation who can then use them to help protect our woodlands and ensure they prosper in the future.”

Following a taster week-long course in Herefordshire, the two apprentices were chosen from a shortlist of 11 applicants.

They will work with several of the ‘Grow With Wyre’ partners including the Forestry Commission, Natural England, the Guild of St George and the Wyre Community Land Trust.

The pair has already been hard at work in the forest learning how to drive tractors and use chainsaws.

Forestry Commission Area Forester in the Wyre Forest, Richard Boles, says:

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to encourage some younger people into the forest to work. They will learn a wide range of skills including fencing, tractor driving, meadow restoration and chainsaw cutting which will enable them, at the end of their two-year apprenticeships, to apply for jobs as forest craftsmen.”

Much of the Wyre area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and many rare species of flora and fauna can be found there, such as the pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, common fan-foot moth and marsh fragrant orchid.

The landscape consists of rolling hills, woodland, orchards and open water with picturesque valleys and is one of the largest areas of ancient semi-natural oak woodland in Britain.

‘Grow With Wyre’ is designed to restore the unique landscape of Wyre and celebrate its rich working history. It aims to encourage more people to access, learn and become involved in the Wyre landscape and hopes to improve understanding of local crafts and other skills by providing training opportunities.

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of 2 million will drive the scheme forward with other funding totalling nearly 294,000 from GrantScape, a further 74,000 from SITA Trust and funding from the ‘Grow with Wyre’ partners.

The Forestry Commission is the lead partner in the ‘Grow With Wyre’ Landscape Partnership Scheme, joined by the Small Woods Association, Natural England, Shropshire County Council, Bewdley Development Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Worcester County Council, Wyre Forest Study Group, Wyre Community Land Trust, Wyre Forest District Council and the National Trust.

For more information about the Grow With Wyre projects please contact the project team or see the website

An image of Martin Dagger, 21, from Bristol and 18-year-old Paul Teague from Worcester is available by calling 01524-782086.

1. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. It supports woodland owners with grants; tree felling licences, regulation and advice; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Government on forestry policy. It manages more than a million hectares (2.5 million acres) of national forest land for public benefits such as sustainable timber production, public recreation, nature conservation, and rural and community development. For further information, visit

2. The Grow With Wyre Landscape Partnership Scheme is being delivered by a partnership of the following organisations. The Forestry Commission is the lead partner in the Grow With Wyre Landscape Partnership Scheme, joined by Natural England, Shropshire County Council, Bewdley Development Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Worcester County Council, Wyre Forest Study Group, Wyre Community Land Trust, Wyre Forest District Council, Bewdley Development Trust and the National Trust.

The Grow With Wyre Landscape Partnership Scheme is led by the Forestry Commission and was set up to help restore the unique landscape of Wyre, celebrate its rich working history and help protect rare species like butterflies. This 4 million Scheme is mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is made up from 18 projects, covering biodiversity, community involvement, access, local history, economic regeneration and education.

Two of the 18 Grow with Wyre projects are linked to provide training for volunteers in butterfly identification in the Wyre Forest - Back to Orange and Branching Out. Back to Orange has received a 74,000 grant from SITA Trust, which is being used by the Forestry Commission, Butterfly Conservation and Natural England for essential habitat restoration work in special areas of Wyre to maintain the strongholds of the fritillary butterflies, including Hurst Coppice, Dowles Brook and the Great Bog near Bewdley.

The Forestry Commission, Butterfly Conservation and Natural England are all closely involved with the Back to Orange Project. Butterfly Conservation has been working with the Forestry Commission in the Wyre Forest since the late 1980s, with work focusing on the survey and monitoring work and management advice.

3. SITA Trust - SITA Trust was set up in 1997 and runs two major funding programmes including Enriching Nature – for biodiversity projects in England. Each year, SITA Trust commits over 7 million nationwide through the Landfill Communities Fund, see Landfill tax was introduced in 1996 to encourage more sustainable ways of managing waste. The landfill tax legislation also brought about the Landfill Communities Fund. This scheme allows landfill operators to voluntarily donate 6.6% of their landfill tax liability to environmental improvement projects. The Landfill Communities Fund is independently regulated on behalf of HM Government’s Revenue & Customs by ENTRUST.

4. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a Stage One pass of 1.86 million to the Grow With Wyre’ Landscape Partnership Scheme. HLF enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. From our great museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up our nation’s heritage for everyone to enjoy. They have supported more than 33,900 projects, allocating 4.4billion across the UK. Website:

5. GrantScape – GrantScape has a twelve-year environmental and community grant-making heritage. It is also a major funder of biodiversity projects across England and Wales (see Since 2005, GrantScape has awarded some 10 million through its Biodiversity Challenge Fund to 25 major projects considered to deliver the most significant gains for UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority habitats and species. Grow with Wyre’s “Rejuvenating Traditional Orchards, Special Trees and Ancient Hedgerows” project was one of six grant award winners under its 2007 Biodiversity Challenge Fund. The 294,000 grant from GrantScape is also being made available through the Landfill Communities Fund, using monies provided by Waste Recycling Group Ltd.

Bob Griffiths (Wyre Forest Landscape Partnership/Forestry Commission) on 01299-269228 or email

Alison Coggon (Administrative Officer - Grow With Wyre) on 01584-813828 or email