Co-operative Supporting Local Charity and Improving Unmanaged Woodlands


Care Ashore is a charity established after the First World War which now offers housing and support to retired and convalescing seafarers.   It is now located on the 296 acre Springbok Estate in Surrey where the grounds include 35 acres of mature woodland managed by Joe Court Forestry. 

The Springbok Sustainable Wood Heat Co-Operative

The Springbok Sustainable Wood Heat is a co-operative which was founded in 2014.  It raised capital from its members to build a new district heating system for the residential accommodation at Care Ashore to replace their antiquated and unreliable oil boilers. The new system was commissioned in June 2015.  It runs on local and sustainably sourced wood chip and by replacing oil for heating and hot water it has significantly reduced Care Ashore’s carbon emissions.  Springbok Co-operative also wanted to create a local market for wood chip, bringing unmanaged local woodland back into sustainable management and creating better habitat for local wildlife including the endangered Wood White butterfly. 

 Springbok Co-operative is a registered ‘producer trader’ under the Biomass Suppliers List and is in the process of switching to producing all its own wood chip which is chipped for it by Joe Court Forestry.

Park Copse Woodland

Park Copse is a 38 acre woodland bordering onto Springbok Estate that Joe Court Forestry Ltd have been managing since 2016. It is owned by two of the members of the Springbok Co-operative, Kathy and Mike Smyth. Joe has been working closely with Kathy on a full woodland management plan to revitalisethe woodland after more than twenty years of neglect which has seen the following work undertaken:

  • New loading bay: opening up a woodland entrance for HGV access to remove timber offsite and creating a sufficient area for chipping timber throughout the year.
  • Significantly opened up the existing rides to give vehicle access but also giving access to all compartments of the woodland, including 3 East/West rides which are perfect for butterfly habitat
  • Thinned softwood compartment: respacing trees, allowing trees to breath and grow more successfully
  • Thinned Oak plantation which will be underplanted with hardwoods whilst the remaining Oak will have more room for the canopy to grow. 
  • Any commercial standard timber from this woodland is sold to local sawmills with the money reinvested into the woodland.
  • Brash is stacked, seasoned and chipped for use by the Springbok Co-Operative in the biomass at Care Ashore
  • From January 2020, chipwood will be harvested and moved onto the Care Ashore estate for seasoning and then chipped straight into a purpose build chip barn.

After only a few years, the ecological benefits of this careful stewardship have exceeded expectations and the species of butterfly present in Mike and Kathy’s wood has grown from one (Specked Wood) in 2016 to more than 16 in the summer of 2019.

The wood has recently been included in the Butterfly Conservation “Saving the Wood White” project. You can read more about the project here.

Article written by Kathy Smyth.



Co-operative Supporting Local Charity and Improving Unmanaged Woodlands

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