Nene Coppicing & Crafts is a Community Enterprise Company, run by volunteers and dedicated to promoting heritage woodland management skills, conservation and traditional crafts.
Originating from a Heritage Lottery funded project, Woodland Heritage in Action, run by the independent charity Peterborough Environment City Trust, Nene Coppicing and Crafts became a Community Interest Company in 2016.
We work in the important semi-natural ancient woodlands in Bretton (Grimeshaw Wood, Pocock’s Wood and Highleas Spinney), liaising with Peterborough City Council and in Castor Hanglands in conjunction with Natural England.
In 2018 we continued our work re-instating neglected coppice areas to improve biodiversity, although this was somewhat curtailed after the summer in the Bretton Woodlands (see below).The scheduled five year review of the management plan for the Bretton Woodlands combined with the recognition of the severity of the chalara ash infection in our area has meant that in agreement with PCC and the Wildlife Trust, we have limited our activities in those woods pending a large-scale rewrite of the 20 year management plan by the original consultant.
In Castor Hanglands, we continue to liaise with Natural England staff so that we re-instate the overstood coppice areas whilst limiting any negative impact on this SSSI and National Nature Reserve.
Heritage skills using green wood and willow are being developed and regularly demonstrated to the public. Several members went on hurdle making courses and were able to provide hurdles for Castor Church.
One of the company’s aims is to provide a safe space for people to enjoy the woods and we have been able to welcome two support workers and their charges to take part in our activities.
We continued to make charcoal during the summer and this was our main source of income, although it has not covered our costs for the year. We also obtained a grant for training from Making Local Woods Work and this was used to put one member through the Part 1 chainsaw course.
Attending events such as the Peterborough Heritage Festival and Peterborough Wildlife Festival give us the chance to explain to local residents the procedure of coppicing and its potential to improve biodiversity as well as giving people the opportunity to have a go at heritage crafts.
After taking part in various events at Sacrewell Farm over the years, Nene Coppicing & Crafts has negotiated a residency with the William Scott Abbott Trust. We now have a small workshop in one of the farm’s outbuildings and have agreed to demonstrate willow work and greenwood crafts on two days a month (in practice this is usually more) as well as attending events and providing courses in heritage crafts.
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.
The Covid Pandemic- our current situation (March 2021)
Over this last year there have been major changes to our activities because of the pandemic. Because of the restrictions on meeting and working together we have had to stop our work altogether for long periods of time and have only just returned to working at Castor Hanglands and Sacrewell Farm in a very limited way. This has delayed our programme of work at both locations and meant that we have not been able to welcome any new volunteers or provide training courses as we would have liked. We are very sorry that we have had to disappoint many people who would otherwise have liked to join us, but we have had no alternative because of the need to keep everyone safe.
Our current situation is:
Sacrewell farm – we are working in pairs setting up a new working area on odd days of the week, as well as cutting willow at other sites. We are not able to welcome other volunteers or provide any courses at present.
Castor Hanglands -similarly we are only beginning to arrange for pairs of workers to start to clear the backlog of work in our Hazel woodland and we cannot yet invite new volunteers to join us because of the limits on numbers who can work together.
Bretton woods– a small group of volunteers continue to work at clearing the woodland, but again new volunteers cannot join them presently.
From the end of this month we will be able to increase the size of our groups working outside to six people at any one time, while still maintaining social distancing and other precautions.
Hopefully if the situation improves throughout May and June we will be able to gradually increase our activities and invite new volunteers to join us -provided that the national guidance allows us to do this.
In the meantime, if you are interested in working with us in the future please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add your name to our list of volunteers who we can contact as the situation changes.
We will also update this website to provide information on our current activities.
We look forward to meeting you and working with you in the future, both to manage our ancient woodland and to learn old heritage skills with us .
Nene Coppicing and Crafts