Why did rare breed farm animals become rare breeds? Simple, people stopped eating them. Now they are coming back into fashion the numbers of these rare breeds are gradually increasing and are no longer at risk of extinction. "So, what does this have to do with this project?" I hear you ask. Well, surely the same applies to our woodlands? If nobody makes use of them, then they will become neglected, non-native species will start to take hold and our ancient native woodlands will be lost forever!
Why are people not caring for these sites? This is probably due to the fact that not many people can afford either the time or the money to manage them if they are not able to turn a profit or at least cover their costs. There are more and more small local woods in desperate need of attention.
This is where our project started. Just on the edge of our village there is an ancient wood which we are currently in the process of purchasing. As we are not experienced in forestry management we intend to get all the help, advice and guidance from experts to allow us to manage this small section of ancient woodland and restore it to its former glory.
One evening, my husband and I were pondering over the best way to manage the woods. Having had over 30 years experience working with animals of all shapes and sizes, a good few of those years I have been equine based, we came up with the idea of using a horse to help us with our project. Horses can be used, not only for logging to remove dead, diseased or non-native spieces, but also for transporting firewood to and collect supplies from the local villages. They would have the lowest possible impact on the environment and also give us a way to increase the income from the woods as we maybe able to incorporate a horse into the bigger business plan. This is where the second part of the plan comes in.
We hope to be able to run some rural craft courses, hopefully to include: foraging, stonewalling, coppicing, felt making, wood carving, bug/nature hunts to name but a few of our ideas so far, as well as perhaps relaxation days when you bring a blanket and a book to the woods. (Any other suggestions gratefully accepted but we do have a fairly long list of possibilities). They will depend on us being able to hire the right experts for the courses but we are sure to be able to find some hiding in the Cotswolds! As parking is limited near the woods we have already obtained permission from one of the very kind local land owners to be able to park some vehicles on his land when we are running courses. We also intend to talk very sweetly to the local landlady to ask permission to possibly use some of her car parking space if necessary. This may in turn also increase local trade. In order to get clients and/or equipment, to and from the woods we intend to use the horse to pull a cart/wagon to transport them to and from their vehicles (weight permitting) which may also add some extra interest in our projects. We also hope to be able to welcome children from the village primary school and their forest school trained teacher into the woods for their forest school sessions (this would not be for profit). We believe in giving some back when we can!
We do intend to keep this all as low impact and as low key as possible, we want people to experience the woodlands in an undisturbed and natural state. We are just visiting and we want to leave nature as natural as possible.
For us to achieve our goal, we feel the horse is a really important, or even key, part of our project. This is the reason for our fund raising drive. We hope you can support us in anyway you can. We will try to make the rewards something to remember. Thank you for taking the time to read our pitch and thank you for any support you are able to give. Hugs to you all!