Ensuring that people and potential partners are aware of the Thames Chase Community Forest project is critical, both to enable delivery through partnership working and also to ensure that the Forest is used by the public. With the significant reductions in public sector resources allocated to Thames Chase after 2010, there was a very real risk that the entire Thames Chase project would fall apart, and unfortunately the momentum and awareness of Thames Chase did suffer. Now that the Trust has secured the lead for the project, it is important to re-establish the Community Forest as a significant and positive force for good in the area. This latest Thames Chase Plan manifests this ambition.
The Trust now concentrates on promoting the Community Forest from its base at the Forest Centre in Upminster. This acts as the ‘shop window’ for Thames Chase, explaining the purpose behind the Community Forest through a combination of displays, volunteer effort and activities that reflect its values. Visitors to this centre are made aware of the wider Thames Chase Community Forest, and through a growing base of volunteers can actively become involved in making it happen. Indeed, the best means of promoting the Thames Chase concept is through people who believe in it themselves and are committed to seeing it realised. Through its partnership-working role, the Trust and its partners also make Thames Chase known to other stakeholders in the area through collaborative projects and ventures that support delivery. Through consistent and wide-ranging partnership activity, the Thames Chase partnership can ensure that the relevance of the Community Forest is continuously promoted.
Digital opportunities to share information between volunteers, partners and the public now exist that simply were not available when Thames Chase was first conceived. A Thames Chase Interpretation System has been set up that allows users to share information simply and easily so that it appears in a public-friendly manner on the web, phones and Forest Centre displays. This includes information on scheduled events and activities, ongoing Community Forest projects and successes, as well as maps that set out walking, cycling and riding trails and that offer interpretation of environment and heritage. This will be developed and improved upon in the coming years and it is hoped that the system can be rolled out across the Forest through partner sites as well.
More traditional ways of raising awareness of Thames Chase continue to be relevant. This includes the development of signage and physical interpretation throughout the Community Forest, complementing the ongoing Access programme and greenways strategy. Developing a co-ordinated approach to physical signage in collaboration with the Forestry Commission and local authorities will be required, with implementation delivered opportunistically as and when resources become available.
Summary of Promotion programme
Promotion programme and strategic objectives 1-5
|Objectives||Fit with Programme|
|1. To protect, improve and expand the woodland character of the Community Forest||
|2. To maintain the natural integrity of the Community Forest’s air, land and water including wildlife||
|3. To develop a connected network of links and accessible, vibrant greenspaces throughout the Community Forest||
|To integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation responses into the developing Community Forest||
|5. To use the Community Forest to improve local health and well-being, volunteering, learning and employment||
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