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Heartwoods based at the Greenwood Centre, Ironbridge


Heartwoods, a tree and woodland industry support initiative, is currently focusing on promoting the management of woodlands to supply wood for fuel. A wholly owned subsidiary of Small Woods a third sector organisation.

Project partners include Advantage West Midlands (Rural Development Programme), Forestry Commission, Confor (Confederation of Forest Industries) Rural Hubs, NFU, Woodland Trust and Midlands Woodfuel.


Heartwoods has three staff and 20 Woodfuel Champions from the private sector to deliver advice, support, signposting and facilitation. This will result in increased capacity and activity in the wood supply chain; particularly smaller, undermanaged woods to deliver a sustainable low carbon product whilst delivering the much wider range of benefits that managed woods can deliver.

The aims

  • To create three new woodfuel supply co-operatives
  • To deliver 168 advisory visits
  • To deliver 400 training days, 170 trainees
  • To strengthen eight rural businesses
  • To create 15 new jobs
  • To bring 500 hectares of woodland back into management

The challenges

  • Working with a small but very diverse sector with little history of collaboration
  • Working with low margin and low capacity micro-enterprises
  • Creating the links with existing support mechanisms such as Woodland Enterprise Grant and Business Link

The solutions

  • Made excellent connections with key partners e.g. Forestry Commission, Rural Hubs, Confor, National Farmers Union, and Country Land and Business Association.
  • Promoted the services offered around key networks.
  • Recruited Woodfuel Champions from within sector to act as champions/advocates and deliver advisory services – this builds capacity and awareness in the sector itself.

The results

  • 5 micro-enterprises successfully supported to secure Woodland Enterprise Grant (WEG).
  • 20 micro-enterprises successfully supported to apply for WEG.
  • 15 advisory visits to small woodland owners.
  • 4 sub-regional training events for woodland owners and managers.
  • 20 Woodfuel Champions recruited and trained.

Learning points

What worked well:

  • By recruiting Woodfuel Champions from the sector, vital skills and experience can be harnessed and there is the opportunity to bridge the gap between small woodland owners and woodland managers (who historically tend to work with larger woodland owners).
  • Raising the capacity of the sector to obtain advice and support for capital investment and exploiting new markets through technical support, signposting and facilitation.

What they would change:

  • Early stages of project bureaucratic due to constant reprofiling (changes in direction).
  • Constraints of match funding requirements.


SWM comment

We like that this project has included a focus on training and skills as this will help people to feel well-informed and supported if they are changing to using wood as a fuel.


For more information please go to the Heartwoods website or contact the co-ordinator rachel.meehan@smallwoods.org.uk.

A press release is available from the Heartwoods website.