Towards a Management Plan for Castle Woods, Helensburgh
Helensburgh Community Woodlands Group is an active community organisation that aims to manage local woodlands for community benefit. It was established in 2004 by a group of local residents concerned at the potential loss of nearby woodland to housing development. They operate under a formal and democratic constitution and currently have about 60 members, concentrated to the west of Helensburgh in Scotland. They are part of the Community Woodlands Association which was set up in 2003 as the representative body of Scotland’s community woodland groups.
This work was carried out over the winter of 2012-13 and consisted of the generation of a Management Plan.
The proposals are intended to enhance the tree coverage and remedy the environmental neglect that the woodland has suffered over the years. These priority tasks would include:
- Creating better quality footpaths and boardwalks in the woodland. These initial routes have been identified from the obvious desire lines that are already visible on the ground.
- Creation of specific welcoming access points to and from the woodland, with appropriate signage.
- Constructing quality timber fences where appropriate to demarcate the boundary of the community woodland.
- Felling and management of trees which are dead, dying or dangerous, particularly on the boundaries with neighbouring houses.
- Ensuring positive ground water management within the woodland, and utilising the water to create a new pond, while at the same time preventing downstream water problems that have affected neighbouring properties
- Encouraging suitable wildlife habitats to promote local biodiversity.
- Removing the invasive laurel bushes to let more light into the woodland making it more accessible and welcome to the walkers and users.
- Felling some non-native trees within the woodlands to make the vegetation more open and to allow native shrubs and trees to prosper.
- Planting specific native trees to ensure a stronger woodland structure.
Before finalising this draft plan, local residents and woodland users had the opportunity to contribute their ideas and thoughts so that there is a wider agreement that these plans should go forward. HCWG are looking to lease or purchase as soon as possible to enable their plans to go ahead. Sources of funding are being investigated and will include Forestry Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage, Ministry of Defence, National Lottery and Argyll & Bute Council.
HCWG is keen to involve local people in planning a better future for Castle Woods and is committed to keeping the local community informed and involved in management decisions. HCWG already has an active membership and will be seeking to build this up. This will ensure that all the necessary administrative and management tasks that will be involved in looking after Castle Woods can be undertaken effectively.
We developed a website for HCWG to help with their activities.