Introducing ELMS

John Morris, ELMS Project Manager for Small Woods. Photo: Chris Smith

John Morris, ELMS Project Manager for Small Woods. Photo: Chris Smith

June 2020

In his first blog in his new role with Small Woods, John Morris introduces himself and the ELMS project.

I started work with Small Woods this month as the ELMS Project Manager, the Environmental Land Management Scheme in England, mentioned in Spring 2020 edition of Small Woods Magazine, (Issue 78, p5).

Funded by Defra until the end of 2021, Small Woods will develop solutions to improve the support available to small woodland owners and managers from an environmental point of view. By the end of this period, we will produce a report on how this new grant scheme and additional support can better help with small woodland management in England, as part of the Defra Tests and Trials programme.

We will be working with the Forestry Commission and many other partners to gather information and develop ideas. I am also supported by Project Coordinator Steve Warwood, and Regional Coordinators and their local groups in seven geographical study areas:

1. Cotswolds AONB and Heart of England Forest
2. Cumbria – Forest Investment Zone and Eden Valley
3. Eastern Claylands – Suffolk
4. Marches – Herefordshire and Shropshire
5. NE Devon – Biosphere Area, plus Exmoor
6. SW Peak Churnet Valley
7. SE – Surrey Hills AONB, plus the Weald

Small Woods are planning to produce a questionnaire later this year for woodland owners and other stakeholders. We hope to discover your views on a range of issues and find out what incentives are likely to help with both small woodland management and woodland creation. For the purpose of this study we are looking at woodland ownership of under 20 hectares. I hope that this questionnaire will gather responses from these core regions and woodland owners in other areas, as this can help shape the future incentives that we hope will be available. We want to know what currently works well and what should be changed or needs to be improved. The scope of the work includes woodland management plans, biodiversity improvements, landscape improvements, resilience to climate change, reducing flooding and improving water quality, and more! Due to Coronavirus restrictions much of our consultation will be online rather than through face to face meetings.

My background is that I ran the Chiltern Woodlands Project, a registered charity based in the Chilterns AONB office, for 31 years helping owners of small woods to manage their property. This evolved from the earlier Chiltern Society Small Woodlands Project, which I started in 1983. I also helped set up the National Small Woods Association in 1988 and was the first chairman of Small Woods Association for five years from 2000, during which time it merged with the Greenwood Trust and its base at Coalbrookdale.

We have a lot to do in the next year and I look forward to working with you.

Small Woods CEO Ian Baker is delighted to welcome John to the team. “John has been a supporter of the Small Woods Association from the start and it is fitting that someone so steeped in all things woodland should be leading this important project,” he said. “The ELMS project is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to influence the way support is made available to support the creation and management of our smaller woodlands, and few people appreciate that as well as John does.”