There are two essential elements to consider when running a Community Woodland; looking after people and looking after place. Looking after people is vital for establishing and maintaining a healthy group of volunteers. Without them, nothing will happen! It is equally important to understand why you are managing your woodland - what are the community’s priorities - and openly sharing this, so that a plan can be put in place and everyone knows what they are working towards.
There is a lot to think about when setting up a Community Woodland group; how formal should the group be, what legal structure makes best sense, where do we get insurance from, what tools do we need, what’s the best way of recruiting members and so on and so on... The amount of things to get to grips with is quite daunting - and this is all before you have even picked up a bow saw! Fortunately, there are lots of groups out there that have done all this before, and have shared their learning in guides and on websites.
You have a motley band of eager volunteers. But do you have a wood? You don’t have to buy one - that is a very expensive option - as there are a number of other ways you can secure access to a woodland, from leasing it off a Local Authority or Parish Council through to agreeing management rights with a private land owner, often with little financial outlay. One organisation that it is worth getting in touch with to find out if they have any woodlands in need of some TLC is the Woodland Trust, who look after woodlands all over England and can often do with a helping hand.