People too have benefitted! Cycle routes, bridleways and footpaths have been created. All over the Community Forest there are now country parks, woods and river valleys all accessible to the public.
Whether you want to walk your dog, watch birds, run for health or cycle with your grandchildren there are places in the Community Forest to enjoy yourself.
The Future -
But with a goal of eventually covering 30% of open land with woodland, to say nothing of connecting up all the natural and historic attractions so that everyone can travel from one to the other without going on a busy road, this is a project that has a lot further to go!
Who is driving the project?
Since 2010 it is the Thames Chase Trust which has been responsible for co-ordinating the efforts of all the organisations that have an interest in the countryside within the Community Forest. With a modest amount of funding from local authorities, the Trust itself, assisted by the Forestry Commission, has been levering in funds to improve the landscape, to create more open space accessible to the public and to plant more trees. The Forestry Commission is a very important partner in the enterprise. It has been responsible for restoring landfill sites within Thames Chase Community Forest. It is working with commercial interests to bring back to countryside the 16% of land that was previously landfill.
The Trust is also responsible for coordinating the efforts of local authorities, the Forestry Commission, other charities such as the Wildlife Trusts, the Woodland Trust and many others, to work together, ignoring boundaries of any sort, to promote ambitious schemes to do more to improve the experience of visiting countryside close to where people live.
Volunteering and other ways to help
The remarkable thing about the Trust and the Forest Centre is that, with the help of a very few staff, they are run entirely by volunteers. Volunteering can mean everything from helping man the Visitors Centre, to becoming a trustee of the Thames Chase Trust or joining the Conservation Volunteers who are out and about in the Community Forest doing all sorts of practical tasks.
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