Welcome to our new Administrator

We are delighted to welcome Jill Hyslop to the woodlands team as our new Administrator.

Jill lives next to the woods and loves spending time there. She has lots of admin experience from her previous career in publishing and she is currently Secretary of Gifford Community Council. She’s the perfect person to take over the role from Onie and we’re excited to see what she’ll bring to the role.

We’d like to also give a big thank you to Onie who will be stepping down as Administrator at the end of March. Onie has been an excellent support to the Gifford Community Woodland team these past few months as we developed our Community Engagement Plan for 2022-24 and established efficient working systems behind-the-scenes. Due to the unexpected outcomes of the past two years of lockdowns, Onie is having to leave to focus on her other business commitments. We wish her all the best and look forward to welcoming her in the future as a volunteer when her other work commitments ease.

Onie will be supporting Jill over the next week, as she gets settled in. It’s a busy first week! You can see details of everything that’s happening on our Events page.

So, please give a virtual welcome to Jill. She’s looking forward to meet you at one of our upcoming events and welcoming you to our beautiful community woodland.

Update from the Open Woodland Meeting

Thanks to everyone who joined us on Monday for the quarterly Open Woodland Meeting. It was great to see you all and hear your thoughts on the upcoming plans. Thank you also to the staff at the Bowling Club for hosting the relaxed setting.

We had an efficient, productive and upbeat meeting. Roo gave an update on the outcomes of the previous Trustees meeting and actions from the previous meeting including an update on the creation of the new wildlife pond in the wood. Nev updated everyone on the woods activities such as rhododendron clearance progress, removal of windblown trees and drainage works.

We updated everyone on the exciting links being made with Yester Primary school and Forest Schools. As well as providing updates on all community engagement activities. And we asked everyone to give feedback on which adult learning events they would like us to prioritise when planning for the next quarters.

Some attendees also expressed an interest in helping to host volunteer activities in the woods, support with fundraising events, assist the communcations team in the delivery of the newsletter and promotional work, support Forest School and youth group activities, help out with the community-led fruit trees project, as well as training to become a Gifford Community Woodland Volunteer Leader.

We’d love to hear from the wider members of Gifford community too!

If you have an interest in helping to care for Gifford Community Woodland, please take part in this short survey by 31st March. Thank you!

Take the survey

Browse the documents relating to the February Open Woodland Meeting here:

Minutes of February 2022 Open Woodland Meeting

See Woods Report here

See Community Engagement Summary here

As ever, do get in touch if you’d like to get involved. Thank you!

Come to the next Open Woodland Meeting on 28th February 2022, 7.30-9pm

What would you like to see happen in the woods? Are you keen to get involved in caring for the woods?

Come along to the next Open Woodland Meeting on 28th February from 730-9pm at the Gifford Bowling Club.

This is an informal, friendly meeting where you can hear all about what’s been happening in the woods and have your say about upcoming activities. There’s no pressure on anyone to speak and it’s a lovely way to meet other Gifford residents.

There will be an update on what’s been happening in the woods during the past quarter and plans for the next quarter. Everyone attending will be given the opportunity to suggest and provide feedback on the events and activities we hope to undertake during 2022.

There’s also the option to join the meeting online using the Zoom link below:


Please let us know you are coming by emailing gifford.woodseh41@gmail.com

We hope to see you there!

See Agenda here

See Woods Report here

See Community Engagement Summary here

Spring Volunteering opportunities – join us!

We’d love to welcome you to our upcoming Volunteering opportunities. Keep an eye on our Events Page for details.

Volunteering in the woods

Join Nev for fun, practical sessions helping to care for our woods. No experience is necessary. All ages and abilities are welcome. If you’d like to find out more, or join us for any of the sessions, please contact us.

DateTimeActivityLeaderMeeting point
Sunday 23rd January10am – 3.30pm Lunch/Soup providedRhododendron Clearance with LCVNev KilkennyWelfare Camp at thetop of Station Road
Sunday 6th February1030am – 3.30pm
Lunch/soup provided 
Rhododendron Clearance with LCVGordon SteeleWelfare Camp at the top of Station Road
Sunday 27th February10am – 3.30pm Lunch/soup providedRhododendron Clearance with LCVNev KilkennyWelfare Camp at the top of Station Road
Saturday 12th March9am – 1pm Ditch clearingNev KilkennyWelfare Camp at thetop of Station Road
Saturday 26th March9am – 1pmWood FuelNev KilkennyWelfare Camp at the top of Station Road
Saturday 9th April9am – 1pmWood FuelNev KilkennyWelfare Camp at the top of Station Road

Woods related volunteering activities

We’re hoping to plan more activities for volunteers that help encourage Gifford residents of all ages and abilities to get involved in caring for and enjoying the woodland. This might be through talks and events in the Village Hall, film nights or picnics in the woods.

Shout out to Gifford youths!

Do you have ideas of events you’d like to see happen in the woods? We’d love to encourage more young people to get involved. And importantly, we’d love to hear what you would like us to organise, whether it’s film nights, BBQs, wood skills etc.

Join Nev and Roo at the Lanterne Rouge Cafe on Saturday 29th January at 11am-1230pm to share your ideas.

Easter decorations event on Saturday 2nd April, 10am to 12noon

Following the great success of our Festive decorations event, we are holding an Easter event! Join us in the Village Hall for a morning of creative fun. We’ll be transforming rhododendron off-cuts and other woods resources into beautiful Easter decorations. Help us design the decorations and sell them to fellow residents to raise money for the woods. 

Find out more and have your say – save the date for the Open Woodland Meeting on 28th February

Our Open Woodland Meetings are friendly and informal. You are welcome to come along to listen, have a drink with fellow volunteers and find out more about the plans for the community woodland. At the February meeting, we are really keen for Gifford residents to join us so that you can let us know what events and activities you’d like to see happen in the woods before we start planning seasonal activities for 2022.

Plans are to hold this meeting in the village on Tuesday 28th February at 730-9pm with the option for folk to join online via Zoom. Details will be confirmed nearer the time. All welcome!

If you are interested in joining any of these activities, please contact us. Thanks so much and see you soon!

Should we restore coppicing in our woods?

As part of a recent safety inspection after storms Arwen and Barra, Nev and Paul made an interesting discovery in the community woodland. In an area of around half an acre on the western edge of the woods, next to the road to Broadwoodside, there are a number of hazel coppice stumps (‘stools’) beneath several old well-established oaks.

These stools appear to be very old and are an example of a form of woodland management called ‘coppice with standards’ common throughout Europe for hundreds of years. The large trees can be grown for over 200 years and would have provided high quality timber for house building, ships etc. Whilst the coppice would have been cut on anything from a 4 to 20 year cycle to provide material for such things as wattle and daub, fencing, and charcoal.

This form of management may have existed elsewhere in the wood but this corner is a remarkable example and its position so close to Broadwoodside suggest it may have provided material for the gardens there in times past.

Coppicing has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, not only because of its simplicity and the low cost renewable material it provides, but because the regular cutting floods the woodland floor with light leading to a huge resurgence of flowers and insects.

We have the opportunity to return this corner of the woodland to the traditional model of woodland management; oak standards and hazel coppices. This would mean removing any recent self-sown beech, sycamore and brambles. We would then cut back the hazel stools which would then regenerate new sun shoots each spring. These cuttings could then be used by the community.

What are your views on seeing this interesting little corner of the community woodland being restored for coppicing?

We would love to hear from anyone with stories or information about this part of our woods. Please do contact us. Thank you!

Join us on Monday evening for the Open Woodland Meeting

Find out what’s going on in your Community Woodland, let us know what you’d like to see happen, and discover more about our upcoming volunteering opportunities – both in the woods and behind-the-scenes.

The Open Woodland Meeting will take place on Monday 29th November at 7:30pm. Join us in person at Gifford Bowling Club, or you are welcome to take part online. All Gifford residents are welcome!

Take a look at the documents we’ll be discussing on the night beforehand, simply click on each to take a look: 

We look forward to welcoming you to this relaxed, friendly meeting.

Please email us at gifford.woodseh41@gmail.com if you plan to come in person so we can keep a safe eye on numbers. Thank you.

Volunteer with us this Autumn

We’ve a great programme of Volunteering Activities coming up this Autumn to help protect the woods from damage from squirrels, deer and rabbits and to continue to clear invasive rhododendrons. 

Join Project Manager, Nev Kilkenny, for a rewarding day in the woods – no experience is necessary and all events are suitable for all ages and abilities. 

Join our Autumn Volunteer Days:

  • Saturday 9th October, 9am – 1pm
    • Wood fuel and Rhododendron clearance
  • Sunday 31st October, 10am – 4pm
    • Rhododendron clearance with the Lothian Conservation Volunteers
  • Saturday 13th November, 9am – 4pm
    • Wood fuel and Rhododendron clearance
  • Sunday 21st November, 10am – 4pm
    • Rhododendron clearance with the Lothian Conservation Volunteers 
  • Saturday 4th December, 10am – 4pm
    • Rhododendron clearance with the Lothian Conservation Volunteers 

This is a great way to meet others in the community and learn new skills, whilst enjoying time in our beautiful woods.

If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch at gifford.woodseh41@gmail.com so we can send you more information. We hope to see you soon! 

Report from our AGM: Celebrating a fantastic year in the woods

What a great evening! Thanks so much to everyone who joined us for the Gifford Community Woodland AGM last night. It was so lovely to celebrate the success of the past year with you all – not least raising £75k from Heritage Lottery Fund to manage the woodland and engage the community over the next three years. 

This year has been a particularly impressive year thanks to all the epic work of the volunteers involved in Gifford Community Woodland. Thank you to everyone involved!

The AGM began with an upbeat summary of the year’s progress from Chair, Roo Hardy. You can see Roo’s full AGM report here

Key achievements include: 

  • 18 volunteer days
  • Over 400 new trees planted
  • Safety work continues
  • Improved drainage to accessible paths
  • Many individual volunteer efforts
  • Outdoor learning for the school, guides and cubs
  • 144 community members engaged in woods activities (aged 4-80)

We loved hearing your thoughts and ideas! 

Everyone who came along to the AGM was invited to share what they liked and disliked about the woods. Here’s a summary: 

Good, drained paths x 10Nettles
Benches – a welcome place to rest Litter
Having the small, offshoot paths as well as the main pathsImprovement 
RandomnessPiles of Rhododendrons / Rhododendrons x 5
Community involvement/Being so involved and inclusive of the village and it’s groups (cubs/school/projects) / There is a real energy here tonight including children/Meeting people in the woods – community x 5Lack of suitable area for educational activities
Good mix of varied woodland types/trees x 2Pollution of Speedy Burn / slurry pollution x 2
Local facility for outdoor education is definitely a plus / All the projects that have been done e.g. night wildlife and moth count x 2Icy paths
Learning about what’s in the woods from Nev and other volunteers / Working days in the woods / Volunteer activities / Volunteers x 3Bad parking / lack of parking for non residents (can be inconvenient for residents) x 3
I am impressed by the amount of work going onHorses 
Have been part of my life for 40 years and loved the old woods and love the new woods if they stay as they are nowBikes (will they damage paths, speed vs pedestrians) x 2
Lasting benefits – eats up Carbon DioxideNo information about species of trees, plants, insects, animals for visitors to access
The magic of Fawn Wood
Ash dieback
No litterPaths getting a bit overgrown
Changing colours x 2Drainage still a problem in places
A wonderful, clearly mapped experience
A place to walk the dog
I like that it’s there / love moving here to find a community woodland in the village x 2
Film nights
Peace / Tranquility x 5
Co-operation / The Community Feel x 3
Nev bringing his knowledge and positivity
Donating/planting saplings / New trees growing x 2
The glorious trees / Nature / Beautiful countryside / Wildness / Wildlife / Beautiful area to walk in x 8
An asset for the whole community and beyond
Walking in the snow last winter
A place to run
Safe environment for dogs
Being run with knowledge and sympathy for the wildlife/Development has been sympathetic to the wildlife
Access for all very good/ All abilities and all ages can use the woods / Easy walks for all x 5
That it is next door to where I live

Things you’d like to see happen in the woods: 

We then asked everyone to suggest ideas for projects or actions that they would like to see happen in the woods. It was wonderful to hear such enthusiastic discussion and incredibly helpful to see what projects community members would like to see happen in the woods. 

Here’s what you said: 


  • Fruit tree idea / More coppice and fruit trees x 2
  • More events
  • Educational chats/walks teaching us about the plants, wildlife and why it’s important to plant native trees etc. Each talk could focus on one topic e.g. trees (what are they/why are they here etc.), bracken (like Nev’s fungi forays but different topics too)
  • More film nights
  • Info on plants
  • Leave nettles, thyme great for butterflies
  • Structure for learning and events
  • I’d like to learn about lichens Shared lunches in the woodland using foraged plants and other shared activities to extend relationships in the local area
  • More outdoor craft activities for adults and children – can also earn money for the woods e.g. willow weaving, birch bark craft, bow and arrow workshop for children
  • Wild cookery classes
  • Explain benefits of piles of rhododendrons
  • Occasional nature club for pre/early school age – separate from schools

Going forward … 

Our intention in the coming year is to consider the actions raised at the AGM. We’ll be updating the website soon and making a renewed effort to blog regularly about all the amazing activities taking place in the woods, and help inform the community about the management practices to keep the wood sustainable. Do sign up to get the newsletter at: http://bit.ly/GWoodsMail 

Community Led Initiatives – have your say!

At the AGM, we heard from Cindy Sykes, one of a group of community members who have developed a proposal to plant several fruit trees in a clearing in the woods. Cindy spoke passionately about the benefits of growing our own food, educational events around the fruit trees and the potential for community events such as apple harvesting days. The fruit trees would be planted in such a way as to conserve the ‘wild’ feeling of the woods and would be managed by volunteers. 

The proposal is being carefully considered by the Trustees to ensure that it fits with the aims of our woods, and has support from the community, and a decision will be made soon. 

If you’d like to suggest a proposal for a community project or an activity in the woods please do get in touch. The starting point is a simple form and conservation with volunteers already involved in looking after the woodland. Contact us at gifford.woodseh41@gmail.com 

Share your thoughts – come to our next meeting

Gifford Community Woodland is YOUR woodland. Going forward, we’d love to encourage more people living in Gifford and the surrounding areas to enjoy the woods and to take part in our volunteer activities and education events. 

Ways to get involved: 

  • Get in touch with us by email or social media
  • Come to an Open Woodland Meeting – next meeting is on 29th November 2021
  • Join a volunteer day
  • Sign up to our e-newsletter
  • Apply to be a Trustee

Thanks to Buck and Birch 

Some of you will know that local wild food and drinks innovators, Buck and Birch, have been working in partnership with the woods. They are just about to launch their Birch Vodka with sap tapped from Gifford Woodland birch trees. In return for their use of the woods, they treated everyone at the AGM to a fantastic feast of delicious canapes made from locally sourced plants. 

Check out Buck and Birch’s website here: https://www.buckandbirch.com/ 

Huge thanks again to all the many volunteers working both in the woods and behind the scenes to support our woodland. We look forward to another year of celebrating the tranquility and beauty of Gifford Community Woods with you all!