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What makes Hill Holt Wood so successful?



Social enterprises – organisations that achieve social and environmental aims primarily by trading – have an important role in a sustainable and socially inclusive economy. Forest Research studied how Hill Holt Wood in Lincolnshire has become a community woodland and social enterprise based on sustainable principles.

Key findings

  • Holistic approach – the site focuses on people and communities, management of the environment and the creation of a sustainable business
  • A model for social woodland enterprise – elements of Hill Holt Wood could be adopted elsewhere as a model for rural development and diversification
  • Attractive community – people live and work in the wood, so it attracts people (especially women) who may not usually venture out alone
  • Support – policy-makers must decide how these organisations can be supported (e.g. grant schemes)
  • Local decision-making – commitment from the community and staff provides the momentum for success and greater involvement in strategic local decision-making
  • Woodland advantage – A woodland setting has distinct advantages: seemingly less crowded, calming and therapeutic for children with behavioural difficulties or special needs and scope for a variety of activities (coppicing, charcoal manufacture, woodcraft and recreation)
  • Monitoring – assessments should cover ecological, social and economic impacts, in particular the effect of vocational training on young people excluded from mainstream education

Our involvement

Forest Research’s insights came from a series of interviews with the woodland owners, staff, members of the local community and key staff from outside organisations that contract work to Hill Holt Wood.

Reports and publications

  • Hill Holt Wood: Social Enterprise and Community Woodland (PDF-2195K)
  • Bringing together ideas of social enterprise, education and community woodland: the hill holt wood approach.
    Scottish Forestry 59: 7-14.
  • Tackling youth disaffection through woodland vocational training.
    Quarterly Journal of Forestry 99: 125-130.

Funding & partners


Commissioned and funded by Forest Commission England.


Completed 2004.


Liz O’Brien

Related pages

Useful sites

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Liz O'Brien

Principal Social Scientist