Goods from the Woods
The idea for ‘Goods from the Woods’ came from another successful Llais y Goedwig project we evaluated; ‘Dewis Gwyllt’ (Wild Choice). Deio collaborated with R4C associate Kirsty Wild on this particular evaluation, who brought a wealth of experience to the team regarding both local products and commercial business.
The aim of Goods from the Woods was to pilot an innovative approach to marketing Wales’ woodland products by developing a digital marketing platform for sustainably harvested and processed woodland products, to strengthen supply chains, build economic resilience and facilitate collaboration within the community woodland and small woodlands sectors – a sector laden with potential for supporting Wales’ transition to a low carbon economy.
A second strand of the Goods from the Woods project was to research and pilot a group accreditation scheme in collaboration with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), in order to negate some of the cost and administrative burden of Community Woodland Groups applying for accreditation as individuals. Outputs also included running dissemination and training events and producing two feasibility studies.
In the early stages the project conducted in-depth research into the digital marketplace landscape, past and present, to develop a digital platform blue print. The platform was developed alongside research activity to scope different methods of certifying small and community woodlands and the services they provide to add value and assurance to the site and assist in its longevity and appeal to customers.
The timeframe for this project was ambitious, and delays in awarding the RDP funding and recruiting staff meant that the planned 18-month project had to be completed in under a year. One full-time equivalent post was split into three roles totalling 1.7 FTE due to the condensed timescale, allowing different aspects of the project to be carried out simultaneously by personnel with a relevant skillset.
Our evaluation focused on working with the project team to identify strengths and weaknesses, and advise on how they could address issues going forward so they could deliver by the deadline. We also engaged with woodland groups, businesses, and stakeholders to evaluate how they perceived the process, the benefits they hoped to gain, and the perceived impact of the project going forward.
In May 2023 www.coednet.co.uk was launched as an online directory of community woodland groups and enterprises selling sustainable goods, services and experiences from the woods of Wales. The initial feedback from businesses and woodland groups has been overwhelmingly positive and the hope is that it grows and becomes an established directory over the next few years. Additionally, beneficiaries identified opportunity for internal trade between sellers, increased awareness of each other’s work, and potential collaboration and networking opportunities in the future as a result of CoedNet, in addition to the customer-facing benefits. There is a clear appetite for CoedNet to develop, expand and succeed.
The Goods From The Woods project team utilised their time and funding well in order to meet both its outputs and the needs of the groups it supports. It has been a worthwhile project with a valuable legacy which could carry far into the future with the continued support of Llais y Goedwig.