Funnily enough, despite living quite rurally here in NZ one of things I miss the most from London are the little trips to our tiny local woods we used to take. Perhaps it was the sheer contrast of living on a very busy street, but I can remember afternoons spent there as being a slice of heaven. In the middle of sticky urban summers the woodland was always dip-in-a-pool cool, there was always a new hut built with old branches and there was often a new swing wrapped around a great birch.
I was inspired recently by the story of sixty strangers buying a forest together. With dash of organisation they all put in £500 and came out with a bit of woodland to their names.
It is rather a lot of money but to own a small forest is an experience not many people could ever dream of! The sixty people were found easily- in fact, the idea was too popular and they had to turn people down! In terms of investing in the environment, you can’t get much better. For children to have a place to romp about in, to fall in love with trees in, to get passionate about – it is those whole spend time in wilderness in childhood that will protect it in childhood.
Ben Spencers explains the bits about it he loves the most:
“It’s been an incredibly sociable experience. Shareholders are allowed to camp for a night at a time, and lots of us meet there for parties or big fires where we cook together. Some of us have held business meetings there. It’s all very relaxed: all it takes is a group email, and suddenly there are kids and adults bouncing on trees, games of “40-40 in”, playing on swings, or cooking marshmallows on sticks.
There are always enough people willing to get involved and help out. We just do whatever people have the enthusiasm and time for. To cover our costs (insurance, general maintenance), we ask for small donations from anyone who wants to use the wood – which could be a social enterprise or an art class. Each shareholder also donates what they can afford, up to £20 a year.
I use the woods so much more than I ever thought I would. I’ve got so many different memories of being there: the meeting we held round the fire at night in the snow, where we could hardly see each other’s faces; stringing up a giant hammock for the kids to swing in; lying on a bench, with the sun on my face, listening to the sounds around me. I feel connected to it, and responsible for it.”
What are you waiting for? Go and find 59 nature loving strangers!!!