The Thames Chase Trust obtained funding for the development of an interpretation system that will serve the community and that will help to explain the community forest, it’s significance and key visitor destinations. The website needed to complement the local information systems of local authorities and key partners such as the Forestry Commission and supporting the goals of charitable organisations such as the Essex Wildlife Trust, local ramblers, heritage groups. The objective of the website is to make information and knowledge relative to Thames Chase easily available to all and to engage members of the community in participating actively in the fulfilment of the goals of the Thames Chase Community Forest.
An interactive map was proposed as the key element. The interactive map is accessible via ‘layers’, each layer corresponding to a broad area of interest and immediately accessible to the user. The user has the option to turn off layers, allowing them to focus on their particular interest and allow them to plan activities by location. At this time the Walking layer is live while the volunteers add more content for the other layers.
A key aim of the Trust was that volunteers would be able to input data. As the build progressed we undertook consultation and training sessions with volunteers. These volunteers are adding data on an ongoing basis.
The interpretation aim of the site had to be balanced with information that visitors would require. More traditional pages were added around the map to contain this.
For the first time the Thames Chase Trust has a site that allows visitors to explore the area, plan their day out and also host information about the broader management of the area. This can all be added by trained volunteers.
Walks can be planned, http://www.thameschase.org.uk/discover/walking
Visits to heritage sites can be arranged with information to hand and a map, see this example for Rainham Hall http://www.thameschase.org.uk/discover/heritage-sites/rainham-hall
Community project locations can be displayed to show the improvements being made to the area http://www.thameschase.org.uk/get-involved