Nene Coppicing & Crafts is a voluntary community group dedicated to promoting heritage woodland management skills, conservation and traditional crafts.
We have grown out of a Heritage Lottery funded project, Woodland Heritage in Action, run by the independent charity Peterborough Environment City Trust.
The project initially focused on Grimeshaw Wood, Pocock’s Wood and Highlees Spinney in Bretton. These are important semi-natural ancient woodlands and have a history of management by coppicing going back many centuries, although neglect meant they were in poor condition.
A management plan commissioned by PECT called for a reinstatement of coppicing over a period of 20 years, which should improve the health of the woodlands and maintain biodiversity. In addition, an agreement with Natural England meant that the group’s activities have been extended to an area within Castor Hanglands. We hope to contribute to the conservation of these historically important woodlands by reintroducing the old management techniques.
Woodland heritage crafts are also an important part of our interests and members are actively researching and practising a wide variety of traditional crafts such as spoon carving, pole lathe turning and charcoal making. Leading on from the greenwood crafts, Castor Parish Council have allowed us to plant willow beds on their land near the Milton Ferry Bridge. Now that the beds are established, the willow harvest will be used for basket-making, hurdles and other crafts.
With support from The Northwick Trust and valuable manpower from the Community Payback scheme, the group has developed a business selling local firewood – these proceeds are then used to help fund our activities.
We actively encourage others to join us in the woods. We have a core group of volunteers and lots of visitors from all ages and backgrounds: from office workers on corporate team-building days to families eager to encourage their children to engage with nature. We are always keen to learn more ourselves and are more than happy to share what we have learned. We have regular meetings during the week as well as other events. For more information, see Events & Courses.