The National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) has been successful in securing a Community Energy Peer to Peer Mentoring (CEPM) award to drive forward the second phase of their social forestry pilot work.
The Government is keen to support the development of community energy projects to show how social action can help people reduce their energy bills. Although the community energy sector is growing and increasing numbers of new projects are being developed, the Government has recognised that smaller energy groups often work in isolation, with no formal networks for skills sharing or mentoring with larger more established organisations. Acknowledging the NAAONB’s work on social forestry, Cabinet Office has awarded the NAAONB £50,000 to take the project forward.
During 2014, the NAAONB will be working with woodland management partners to deliver a structured process of learning and development around woodland social action. This will result in
- more woodlands becoming ‘actively’ managed,
- more community groups confidently engaged in woodland activities, and
- stronger wood fuel supply chains to drive more domestic heat derived from renewable sources.
The NAAONB is leading the CEPM partnership that includes Arnside & Silverdale AONB Partnership, Axewood Co-op, Dorset AONB Partnership, Prime Coppice, Silverdale Woodbank and Wyre Forest Landscape Partnership and through collaborative working there will be opportunities for the AONB Family to share, learn and inspire about woodland social action.
The NAAONB CEO, Howard Davies said, “We are all aware of the pressing need to work more collaboratively, share learning, and inspire innovation. The NAAONB has been working hard over the past three years to assist the AONB partnerships in achieving this. We are delighted that the Government has recognised our ongoing commitment to this and is supporting us in the next stage of our work.”
NAAONB Collaboration and Learning Manager, Dave Dixon, who is leading the project said, “We are thrilled to have received the support of Cabinet Office and DECC and we are confident that our staff and volunteers will benefit from the learning and exchange of knowledge their support has made possible.”
Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said, “We want to support community energy groups to help each other. That’s why we are investing £500,000 so that larger projects can help smaller groups get off the ground and more people can learn how to make energy cost savings.”
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said, “This new fund will give aspiring communities access to the cash they need to help kick start hundreds of clean, green energy projects. Not only can community energy projects boost local economies and drive forward green growth, they can also help save money on energy bills too.”
 see http://www.landscapesforlifeconference.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Social-Forestry-Pilot-Report-FINAL-Oct-2013.pdf
 For further information on the project see attachment below
 AONB partnerships, with a lower case p, is the generic term used by the NAAONB to refer to AONB Partnerships, Conservation Boards and any other organisation recognised as the lead governance body for an AONB.