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: 

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 

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: 

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!