Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Building a community around our coppice

Posted: January 5, 2015 at 17:54 pm Author: Karen Price

The role of the Community Inclusion team is to enable a greater number of people from under-represented groups to experience the arboretum and to connect with trees. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund Community Youth Officer, Karen Price, is working with young people so that they can discover, explore and enjoy the arboretum, either as part of an organised group or as an individual visitor.


Unworked for over 60 years, a large area of native coppice along Willesley Drive is now being revived.

Since the summer, we have been working with groups of adults and teenagers to start to bring back into productivity some of the remaining derelict coppice woodland on site.

We have also been working closely with resident Westonbirt coppice worker, Brian Williamson, to ensure any new areas brought into rotation can be properly managed on a long term basis.

Participants have learned basic coppicing techniques, safe tool use and fire management, the different types of products that can be harvested from coppice and native tree identification.

Groups have also helped bramble bash to clear a site for the re-location of the old craft shelter that once stood at the Skilling Gate end of Willesley Drive, which needs to be moved to make way for the tree top walkway.

The craft shelter has become the new home of the community coppice groups, to provide shelter from extreme weather and an area from which to start and finish a day's programme, enabling us to reflect with participants on their aims and ambitions, fears and achievements.

Wild Westonbirt

Wild Westonbirt, a monthly bushcraft and survival club for young people based at the arboretum has also been introduced, with participants learning about fire lighting, food and water collection, shelter building and navigation techniques.

Find out more: