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PRESS RELEASE November 20, 2000

HRH THE PRINCE OF WALES MEETS

THE COPPICE INDUSTRY

One of the oldest industries in the country comes under the spotlight today, when HRH The Prince of Wales visits Herriard Park in Basingstoke to launch a new greenwood trainee scheme, and to see the work of the Wessex Coppice Group.

Formed in Hampshire five years ago, and officially launched by Sir David Attenborough, as a not-for-profit marketing support organisation for the hazel coppice industry in central southern England, the Winchester-based Wessex Coppice Group has now spread its wings to offer its services throughout the country.

The Groupís high profile marketing strategy has resulted in a massive increase in demand for coppice products, such as hurdles, trellises and plant supports. This has opened the door to more job opportunities in the countryside and enabled more out-of-cycle coppice to be brought back into management, which is vital to the conservation of the wildlife, plants and butterflies of our ancient woodlands.

The Prince will be shown hazel coppice of various grades and at different stages of rotation on the estate, and will meet a number of coppice craftsmen, watch demonstrations of their skills and see a wide range of coppice products on display.

Also included in the Princeís visit will be a tour of the offices of FileNET Ltd, which has its North Europe Education Centre in restored Victorian buildings on the estate, and which is supporting the Wessex Coppice Group by providing free IT training to greenwood trainees. The Prince will watch a coppice craftsman being trained in computer skills, and see a demonstration of the Wessex Coppice Group web site.

At the culmination of his visit, His Royal Highness will officially launch the Greenwood New Entrants Scheme, for which Wessex Coppice Group successfully bid for funding under the European Social Fund (Objective 3), and which will train ten new entrants into the industry not only in greenwood crafts but in the necessary business and IT skills to succeed as self-employed workers.

Linda Glynn, Business Development Manager for the Wessex Coppice Group says:

"We are delighted to have this opportunity to show His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales how an ancient craft which dates back to 5000 BC is meeting up with new technology to help it not only to thrive but to compete effectively in the 21st century.

"Already coppice craftsmen are catching on to the fact that e-business is the way forward and are taking advantage of the opportunities being presented to them to market themselves via the internet.

"We will also be stressing the importance of partnership with other organisations in achieving our objectives, and how linking up with a company such as FileNET is a good example of how effectively a business can benefit the local community of which it is a part."

Among todayís invited guests are local dignitaries and representatives from the various organisations which support the Wessex Coppice Groupís work. These include: Hampshire County Council, West Sussex County Council, Countryside Agency, Forestry Commission, SEEDA, European Social Fund, Stangers Environmental, Carillion Infrastructure Management, Cranfield University and FileNET Corporation Inc.