The Hillyfield Appeal, Standing Up for Small Woods

by Doug King-Smith in Harbourneford, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 12th April 2018 we successfully raised £6,637 with 114 supporters in 28 days

Small Woods in the UK are critically neglected. Help us Stand Up at Public Inquiry to support community empowered woodland restoration!

by Doug King-Smith in Harbourneford, England, United Kingdom


Can you Help make a better future for Britain's neglected woodlands? 
On April 10th-12th we stand-up to speak out for the needs of Small Woodland Restoration. 

We need to raise £10,000 to see through this Appeal. Please Donate now & Share our message.
In return we can send you native English Bluebell seed as a Thank You!

The Hillyfield is a beautiful, prize-winning woodland on Dartmoor, managed for community and environmental benefit, and supported by The Forestry Commission and other woodland experts... 

But Planners threaten the way we manage these trees. 

It's a 'Test Case' and we need your help to change these restrictive attitudes to woodland management.

Many of you who are reading this have already made it possible for us to mount a robust appeal, but our legal costs and expert advice has exceeded our original estimates by around £10,000, and we have to stand for an extra day at inquiry. Thank you for helping us get this far! 
IF you can help again by letting your friends know, or offering some financial support that would be greatly appreciated. We are SO close to seeing this through.

At The Hillyfield we:

  • Are actively restoring 45acres of Dartmoor national Park from 35 years of neglect, including Ancient Woodland. 
  • Managing the land sympathetically to high-standards under a Forestry Commission approved management plan.
  • Won 2nd Prize at Devon County Show and are to be a case-study for The Royal Forestry Society.
  • Offer a range of volunteer opportunities to share and learn in the practical skills of woodland management.
  • Provide community benefits by holding open-days and events to engage young people and adults in rural skills and enjoying nature.
  • Have dealt with disease in the trees and felled and replanted about 3000 infected Japanese Larch with mixed broadleaf.
  • Have planted over 7000 trees including 5acres of new woodland, 450meters of new hedgerow, an orchard, tree nursery, herb-spiral and set up a sustainable home-grown timber business selling firewood and planks. 

Comments from the experts:

'I am inspired by the initiative and the energy of the project and equally appalled by the opposition that you have encountered which demonstrates how those in authority lose sight of the very values that they should be encouraging and protecting. They should be working with you and not against you'

(Bishop James Jones, chair of the Independent Panel on Forestry, and Vice President of the Town and Country Planning Association)

'I think the outcome of the enquiry has massive implications for the future management of small woods in the UK'
(Guy Watt, CEO of John Clegg Consulting)

'This is a remarkable project, run by dedicated, energetic and very well-informed people, which is a model for sustainable management of woodland on the fringes of Dartmoor'  

(Dr Tom Greeves, Chair of 'The Dartmoor Society')

Why are the planners making it so difficult? 

We look after 45 acres of woodland on Dartmoor National Park, working hard to bring it back from neglect and set up a small-scale sustainable woodland enterprise.

We have the written support of the Forestry Commission and many other expert foresters, BUT Dartmoor National Park planners say what we need is not necessary for forestry. 

We work with volunteers, and over 8 years have been able to turn back a tide of neglect, implement new rides and deal with disease. It's been hard, but fun and engaging work... and now we are at the point of building up a sustainable business selling firewood and planks milled on our mobile sawmill.

We need a simple wood-drying barn to support our home-grown timber business, and a lockable dry machinery store to protect our equipment. These will be made from our own timber and discretely located within the land, not visible to any passer by. Our expert in Landscape (Lyndis Cole who wrote the Dartmoor national park management plan) says that 'the existing and proposed developments being considered are needed to enable the continued management of the woodlands of the Hillyfield.' And that our management at The Hillyfield:

'mirrors in a microcosm the National Park purposes and duty. It is sustaining and enhancing natural beauty and wildlife, it is offering opportunities for enjoyment and learning, while seeking to create a woodland business that adds value to woodland products, sells these locally, with the monies raised by the business recycled back into the holding to enable the continued sustainable management of the woodlands – a virtuous cycle'

Yet Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) has also served us with two enforcement notices, claiming that to work with volunteers is to change the use of the land to recreation, and that we have to take down all of the structures we use to manage the woods. Yes... even the compost toilet has to go!

IF we lose...

This could be a serious blow to the ecological movement which relies heavily on volunteer engagement. Worse yet, it will mean that restoring small woodlands like ours will be next to impossible and economically unviable given that even the most basic of temporary structures to support woodland management can be enforced against as not necessary for woodland management.

We desperately need your help to raise £10,000 to pay the final costs of this Public Inquiry. To cover the legal fees, and costs spent on professional advice.
Two years ago 706 people generously raised over £26,000! But this has now been spent on costs of the inquiry.

Costs so far and costs to come:

Be warned
As we have discovered, a Public Inquiry is a huge expense and even with the generous support of many professionals and our expert witnesses, our costs are shocking.
Printing costs for our proofs alone were over £550!
We have been working for two years on this and despite numerous efforts to reduce the scale of the inquiry to a hearing and knock issues off the table, DNPA have insisted on a Public Inquiry.
The current total cost of this inquiry to us has been £46,795.97 (paid and promised). This does not account to any personal cost for my family, or business lost through this appeal.

Legal  & Planning Costs: £27,467
Crowdfunder costs & fees: £8931.52
Expert Reports: £3,657
DNPA fees: £2,810
Inquiry Costs: £1,240
Childcare: £1,136
Other costs: £782.45
Printing: £772

Please help us see this through. And PLEASE SHARE IT!

If you want to read a full description of our project please visit 
or the old crowdfunder page Here

& Hopefully see you at the Public Inquiry April 10th, 10am, Parke, Bovey Tracey.

And while you are here, why not enjoy some music available as an EP with 5 other excellent artists. Here is Sam Walker singing his song 'Heart Out'



This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£10 or more

Two High Fives!!

Thank you so much. Thank you for the support. You are a diamond!

£20 or more

8 of 100 claimed

Plant your own Native English Bluebell Seed!

Plant your own memory of the Ancient Woodlands of England! Thank you! Hand collected at Hillyfield. Plant yourself something like 200 Native English Bluebells from seed. Postal only to the UK. These seeds will cover a m2 of land and then, next year or the year after you can transplant to different areas.

£20 or more

The Hillyfield EP Download! Original & v. good

Great Music! A heart-tearing, soul-lifting, cheer-bringing creative response to our appeal Track Listing: Heart Out - Sam Walker The Hilly Field - Ashley Heights (Red Foot Crow) Hilly - Treva Who ( aka The Noisy Parrot) Hillyfield Tango - Sam Alty Legend of The Hilly Field - Algy Behrens Mastering by Light Vessel Mastering You will be sent a link to the web address soon after the Crowdfunder is complete so you can download the EP. ENJOY!!!!!

£25 or more

Five High Fives!!!!!

Boom! Thank you! Together we can make it!

£40 or more

Your name engraved on the Barn!

Well... provided the inspector supports our appeal! Add your name to the barn. THANK YOU!

£50 or more

Ten High Fives!!!!!!!!!

Hoo Ray! Ten High Fives! Sore palms? Nooooo! Thank you for your help!

£50 or more

3 of 40 claimed

Plant your own Native English Bluebell seed! x2

Plant your own memory of the Ancient Woodlands of England! Thank you! Hand collected at Hillyfield. Plant yourself something like 200 Native English Bluebells from seed. Postal only to the UK. These seeds will cover a m2 of land and then, next year or the year after you can transplant to different areas.

£100 or more

What? 20 High Fives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank You so much! You are a diamond!

£100 or more

0 of 50 claimed

Plant your own Native English Bluebells! x3

Plant your own memory of the Ancient Woodlands of England! Thank you! Hand collected at Hillyfield. Plant yourself something like 200 Native English Bluebells from seed. Postal only to the UK. These seeds will cover a m2 of land and then, next year or the year after you can transplant to different areas.

£500 or more

1 of 10 claimed

One big slab of Hillyfield timber

Yes! Your very own slab of Hillyfield timber. To be delivered by courier to any address in the UK. This could be a feature piece for a wall, or bench top, or garden ornament. Cut on our mobile sawmill, a double waney edged slice of Hillyfield. Thank you so much.

£1,000 or more

3 of 10 claimed

Two Big Slabs of Hillyfield Timber

Receive your own PAIR of slabs of Hillyfield timber, cut on our mobile sawmill from a single tree & book-matched together. (3inch slabs, double waney edged, naturally perfect). These could be a feature in your house, or a bench top, or garden ornament. Delivered anywhere in the UK... somehow. Thank you so much.

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