Thursday, 14 October 2010

Social Forestry Course - Day 1

Today I went on Day 1 of the Social Forestry Course at the Greenwood Centre, Shropshire. Our tutor was Kenny Comain, Forester and Arboriculturalist, previously working as the Social Forestry Officer at the Greenwood Centre, and now running a Social Forestry project for people on the Autistic Spectrum in Leicestershire.  Kenny asked us what we thought Social Forestry meant - Being together in a wood? we answered... people making decisions together, making, doing, being well. 

In social forestry there is a specific social reason for what you're doing. The aim may be to get your woodland managed, but the outcome is always social, and the site is always forestry.

I love the way Kenny said...

 "I'm going to take you back to your Mother....

Ask yourself, What is a tree? 

This is one of those questions that made me stop and think.You can answer that question on many levels. I sat and thought about how amazing they are, how incomprehensibly amazing they are. We looked at tree biology, and then types of woodland management including coppice, pollarding, clear fell and replant, continuous cover, agroforestry, woodland gardening, strip clearing and planting in new ground.

Social Forestry Objectives
We looked at the objectives of Social Forestry. On the social side the benefits were for creativity, exercise, amenity, wellbeing, interpersonal skills, employement, craft skills, financial, confidence, self esteem, nature connection and creating an awareness that nature is important.On the forestry side the objectives were for timber production, sustainability, diversity of age class, species, habitat and structure, for beauty, conserving endangered red list species, woodfuel, food, erosion control and coppice crafts materials. It was emphasized that looking at any of these in isolation is a problem. We must take the overall view for a social forestry project to be successful.

Designing A Social Forestry Project

We were asked to pick a client group and to think about their needs.What preparations do you need to make for this to happen? If it's a 10 week programme, what can you achieve in this time? We were asked to do a timeline of the first day of our projects. Overall, things have to be safe and you need to be happy with things before going ahead.  Physical and emotional safety of the participants will come from the safe environment you create. Plan a project with the appropriate level of challenge - too challenging and it won't help their self esteem, not enough challenge and they can loose interest.