Lessons learnt

Outlined in 'organising projects' or developing markets' below are just
some of the basic lessons derived from the six case studies illustrating the Progress Report on the Regional Woodland Strategy published in
autumn 2007.

it is interesting to note that these points were consistent with those derived from other action-oriented projects. For example, the key lessons from European Commission's Leader + initiatives has been that the most successful approaches are tailored interventions directed at specific local needs, securing delivery through broad partnerships and adopting co-ordinated approaches to issues. This set of results is remarkably similar to some of the original Regional Woodland Strategy outcomes.

The general and project specific lessons learnt are grouped under the following headings:


General   Particular
Organising projects   Natural environmental initiatives
Developing markets   Woodland projects
Modus operandi   Greenspace development
    Community health


Organising projects
1. Despite the heavier investment in set-up and negotiating progress, partnership working tends to lead to more satisfactory outcomes.
2. Broad-based action programmes are more likely to deliver a successful outcome than narrow ones.
3. A comprehensive approach, tackling an issue on a number of levels, can often secure greater dividends.
4. Continuity of effort and persistence are invariably as vital as other determinants if a successful project is to be achieved.
5. Dedicated staff allocated to a specific project are not a luxury as they will be enabled and can also be impelled to drive a project forward faster than part-timers.

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Developing markets
1. Market-making requires co-ordinated and intense effort to ensure supply growth and end user stimulation developments go hand in hand, until a critical market mass is reached and growth becomes self-perpetuating.
2. Creating new markets is by definition hard graft. It demands vision, determination and long-term marketing involving in equal measure consideration of target needs, provision of and commitment to consumer education, plus quality and continuity of product supply.

Other projects on this site or in the MAG archives (their titles are in brackets) have provided the following lessons:

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Modus operandi

  • The more complex a project the more important co-operative action becomes (Essex Hedges).
  • Co-operative action is more effective than individual activities, especially for landscape-scale issues, such as deer management (hence the Deer Initiative).
  • Partnership working invariably requires dedicated staff to drive the partners to ensure the whole partnership is truly effective (GreenArc).
  • Provision of advice to key target markets/interested parties is a good method of building networks and garnering support for project objectives.
  • Market making requires every tier of a proposed supply chain to be engaged (Woodfuel East).
  • The setting of project targets needs to be on as objective a basis as possible (Beds ASNW Project).
  • Funding support and strategic direction need to go hand in hand (GreenArc and Woodfuels East).
  • Whether from the public sector or private finance, seeking funding is a labour intensive and time-consuming process (Woodfuels East).
  • When developing and marketing new products, allowance should always be made for significant levels of educational activity to secure awareness/demand (Woodfuels East).
  • Recruitment of volunteers and/or the establishment of friends groups are vital for undertaking many practical tasks.

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Natural environment initiatives

  • Funding needs to be proportionate to the significance of a problem (Deer Initiative).
  • Funding should always be adequate to the task before work gets underway (Norfolk Wet Woodlands).
  • Changing target behaviour requires one-on-one meetings, if a project is to be successful (Deer Initiative).

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Woodland products

  • Growth tends to be constrained in this sector as woodland products have poor cost-balance profiles and so tend to generate marginal returns (Essex Harvest).
  • Because transport costs are relatively high, marketing of low-margin woodland sourced products tend to be confined to the immediate local area. (Essex Harvest).

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Greenspace development

  • Involve the community(/ies) concerned at the earliest opportunity whilst plans are still flexible (Kidney Wood).
  • Land-price rises, coupled to increasingly limited funding sources have severely curtailed opportunities for green infrastructure creation (GreenArc).
  • Woodland developments require woodland management input from the outset (Kidney Wood).
  • It is vital to secure long-term funding for a new site’s sustainability from the outset of a project (Essex redundant woods).
  • Ensure developers are on board wherever substantial green infrastructure projects are contemplated.
  • Try to limit the numbers of developers, as they tend to have conflicting interests.
  • Local authority colleagues need to be aware that a project is as valuable as the degree of community involvement (Kidney Wood).
  • Effective community engagement presents numerous PR opportunities that, if well exploited, can significantly increase engagement levels (Chilterns Special Tree).
  • Practical conservation tasks provide a real sense of achievement (Youth outdoor experience).
  • Vandalism is a perennial problem for green infrastructure sites in urban and peri-urban areas. Often active community involvement can counter it (Bradwell).

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Community health

  • ‘Natural Benefits in the East of England’ (2005) demonstrated a number of case studies in which nature conservation projects delivered a variety of health benefits.
  • Youth targets require multi-disciplinary approaches involving a range of organisations – health, education and young peoples' organisations (Youth outdoor experience).

The more scenic a location the greater the likelihood of public involvement (Epping Life).

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