In Your Network: Nigel Lowthrop
Nigel Lowthrop FRSA runs the social enterprise Hill Holt Wood and works to conserve the UK's precious woodland for future generations. He is involved in work to locate where woodland work is taking place in the UK and would like to connect to Fellows on this issue:
1) Please give a brief explanation of what it is you do and why?
I am the Founder, now supporter, of Hill Holt Wood, a social enterprise and charity that tries to balance social, environmental and economic objectives for a sustainable future based in an ancient woodland in Lincolnshire. We work with young people excluded from mainstream education and the unemployed. All our buildings are low impact built from natural materials such as straw, earth and local timber. Our mission statement is ‘proving the value of ancient woodland in the 21st century’, in perpetuum. This sums up our aim to prove that by a complex and innovative approach, woodland can be managed in a sustainable way that benefits the environment and community within an economic sustainable business model.
2) Why did you join the Fellowship?
To connect to a network of individuals who want to make a difference. Might add that the House makes a good ‘office’ when in London.
3) In what capacity do you think you could contribute to society/the Fellowship?
I'm always willing to contribute ideas and bring my experience of low impact living to the sustainability debate.
4) What would you change in society given the chance?
I'd prevent politicians of all parties succumbing to the influence of London and Whitehall and stick to their nearly always stated aim of giving local communities control. Joined-up solutions are only possible at a local level but are frustrated by departments in London defending their bunkers. It is getting worse not better. Astonishingly there are clever people who can make decisions outside London.
5) What recent bit of news have you heard which inspires you?
Trying to stay right up-to-date, the fact that the Cook Islands (population 20,000) can send a team to the Rugby League World Cup and play the USA.
6) What did you learn last week?
That Japan has the same issues of an ageing rural workforce and young people in danger of never working as we have here.
7) Tell us about another interesting Fellow you have spoken to.
I was going to say my wife (Karen Lowthrop) but she received a mention in the last newsletter. Dr Kate Roach who travels to the Democratic Republic of Congo to study Bonobos on her own. Would you?
8) What would you like to connect with Fellows about? Please tell us if there is anything you would like from other Fellows.
There is a growing interest in the opportunity for communities to take control of local woodlands, to manage them sustainably for the benefit of wildlife and people. A new Woodland Social Enterprise Network which includes The Plunkett Foundation, Locality, The Woodland Trust, Co-ops UK, The AONB Network, SEUK, Shared Assets, Hill Holt Wood and many others, has been established to support the growth of community controlled woodland social enterprise. A survey is being carried out to assess what is already out there and how much early stage interest exists. We are keen to hear from any Fellows who are involved in a community woodland, a woodland friends group or running a woodland social enterprise.
On a wider front I am also keen to hear from anyone else who is ‘off grid’ and disconnected from the present energy price debate to share solutions and, well, gloat!
You can contact Nigel by:
If you are involved in social activities in woodlands, including woodland management, you can take part in the survey Nigel mentioned via this link: visit and complete the survey. If you have any questions about the survey you can ringShared Assets on 020 7749 1105 or email them.