A 550-acre area of woodland on the outskirts of Scarborough has been handed over to a community group in a historic decision by Scarborough Council.
The management of Raincliffe and Forge Valley Woods has been transferred by the council on a 30-year lease to Raincliffe Wood Community Enterprise (RWCE), a social enterprise owned and run by members of the community.
With support from organisations including the Woodland Trust and Groundwork, the group will focus on the development of the site under three themes: wildlife, people and enterprise.
Key activities will include its restoration to broad leaved woodland, the encouragement of greater public use and generating sustainable income from timber sales, employment and volunteering.
Robert Sword, group chairman, said: “This is an exciting time - 2015 will see the Raincliffe Wood Community Enterprise begin restoration on the site, the first for over 50 years, and apply for funding to establish dedicated staff, equipment and a work base locally.
“There will also be a number of volunteer roles created, with the group looking for support in a number of areas including practical conservation work, research, communications and education.
“Raincliffe Wood is predominantly conifer woodland and part of the initial planning is to this these woods into a deciduous woodland to increase biodiversity.”
Mark Feather, of the Woodland Trust, added: “We are delighted to be able to support the local community in turning Raincliffe Woods into something truly unique.”
People wishing to find out more about the group and future plans for Raincliffe Woods are invited to two drop-in sessions being held at The Street community centre in Scarborough. The sessions will take place on Friday February 6 from 2pm and Saturday February 7 from 10am. Plans will be on show and there will also be a slideshow.