Charity launches £1.5 million bid to double woodland close to Birmingham – and reclaim a piece of history
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The Woodland Trust is launching a £1.5 million fundraising campaign to double the size of a woodland on the edge of Bromsgrove.
The charity is looking to buy up 125 acres of farmland next to its ancient and locally treasured 133 acre Pepper Wood, which it already owns, to extend a large patch of precious woodland and create new havens for wildlife.
If it’s successful the charity would be reclaiming the land to what it historically was – a thriving expanse of woodland.
The appeal comes hot on the heels of the Woodland Trust’s launch of its Big Climate Fightback where it is urging the public to buy and plant trees. It has also announced its ambitious aim to plant 50 million more trees by 2025 which would be a fifth of what the Government’s Committee for Climate Change recommended the UK needs to help tackle climate change.
Credit: James Reader / WTML
Toby Bancroft, the Woodland Trust’s Regional Director for central England, said if the appeal is successful, more than 35,000 new trees may be planted – creating a continuous 250 acre patch of woodland.
He said: “Pepper Wood is a beautiful habitat that is treasured by visitors. Centuries ago the woodland used to stretch across the arable land that is there today. By looking to extend this site we would be returning this to woodland as it once was.
“We are in a climate and nature crisis and planting more trees is the natural solution.
“We believe that buffering and protecting our valuable ancient woodlands, which represent just 2.5% of land in use left in the UK, is a really good place for some of the extra trees we so desperately need.
“We urge the public to help us purchase this land and in doing so help us towards our aim to plant 50 million more trees over the next five years!”
Pepper Wood is a glorious 133 acre ancient semi-natural woodland (woodland that has been there for more than 400 years), dominated by oak and birch. Bought by the Trust in the early 1980s, the wood forms part of the Feckenham Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which is considered nationally important for its oak-dominated woodland, unimproved meadows and bird and invertebrate communities.
Historically the wood was coppice managed – cyclically allowed to grow and be chopped back for commercial use - but much of the site was felled during the timber shortages of the 1940s meaning that a lot of the ecological importance was lost. Since reintroducing a traditional coppice cycle with the help of a committed group of volunteers, the Woodland Trust has greatly improved the biodiversity of the woodland, creating structure within the canopy and a variety of habitats in which wildlife can thrive.
The extension land directly borders the northern boundary of Pepper Wood and would create an important protection for the ancient wood, along with providing a wealth of new habitat in itself. Collectively, it would create a significantly more resilient woodland area within the wider landscape.
If the appeal is successful the Trust hopes to start creating the areas of new woodland in the 2022-23 planting season and is looking to complete planting by the end of 2025.
To back the Trust’s appeal go to: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/pepperappeal
More on the Big Climate Fightback, which is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, is at woodlandtrust.org.uk/bigclimatefightback
Notes to editors
For more details on this release contact Andy Bond on 07725 480434.
About the Woodland Trust
The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.
The Trust has three key aims:
- protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
- restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
- plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.
Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.