The Colliers Wood site at Engine Lane, Moorgreen, has gone through an evolution of use that had economic and social impacts that still resonate on the area in which it is situated.

Greasley Parish was originally an agricultural landscape with most people’s livelihood dependent directly, or indirectly, on farming. This activity determined the small population that could be sustained in the area up to the commencement of the industrial scale extraction of coal by deep mining. An industry that required a large manual labour force.

Workers were drawn from agricultural employment by the higher wages and by mine owners providing for rent, houses with water and sanitation provisions. New communities quickly grew in the locality to form the framework of the present urban area. The enlarging population provided a market for service industries to develop, encouraging further expansion of the population and growth of service sites- village and town centres. This population enlargement and the availability of fuel drew manufacturing companies to the area and they added to the increasing prosperity. By the 1800’s the urban areas and their key road and rail routes were very much as exists today. Rail routes initially reduced in the 1960’s and then reduced further following the closure of the deep mines. Much of the abandoned rail routes still exist in fragmented pieces.

Further commuter belt type domestic developments occurred from 1980 onwards, gradually eating into the agricultural land areas and occupying some of the redundant industrial land (brown-field developments). Large locally based industrial employers diminished during this period. New smaller employment sites were later developed as part of the Phoenix Project and subsequent schemes.

These urban developments impacted upon the natural environmental corridors that had existed and created many isolated patches of green space within the urban spread. Bio-diversity generally diminished, especially in the green spaces that were parks, sports fields and recreation grounds. Undeveloped brown-field sites to a limited extent, helped counteract this process by providing some alternative habitats that support a wider range of species than existed in the adjacent urban developments.

Government was persuaded in the 1990’s to require local authorities to take a positive approach to enhancing the environment. Initiatives were developed to promote a variety of actions by local authorities, commercial companies and the population at large. This program was reinforced by the further awareness to encourage healthy styles of living, with one main emphasis being on open-air activity. This requires access to suitable areas and the development of more public open space. In parallel with these initiatives, wider environmental concerns highlighted the changed nature of agricultural land, with less hedgerows and trees and the annual multiple cropping of fields having dramatically reduced the number of suitable wildlife habitats and the species variety available.

In the west area of Nottinghamshire north of the Trent, Greenwood Community Forest started in November 1991 with the aims of restoring green cover, developing opportunities for public access in rural areas and encouraging a greater public understanding of what a healthy environment requires.