>> Elsa Godfrey, owner of Runtington WoodI've just always loved woodland and I grew up in Kent and my younger days were spent, you know, playing out with my mates and stuff and we spent a lot of time in the woodland, and I’ve always wanted to have a woodland. So, I looked for a long while before I found this place. It’s just, it’s a wonderful resource. Sadly though, it’s in poor shape and my ambition is to mend it, you know, to kind of restore it to reasonable health. 

>> Jim Smith-Wright, outreach adviser, the Woodland TrustI came to this woodland, Runtington Wood, with Elsa because she came across us I think on the website and was keen to see how the Woodland Trust could help her with her woodland really, so that’s where I stepped in. This is actually a very typical wood in some ways for the weald, particularly the rhododendron thickets. We’ve started trying to develop some corporate volunteer days to come in here and do some proper habitat management, cutting down the rhododendron by hand with local groups of enthusiastic corporate groups, so they’re making a massive difference just by spending a day here or there.  

>> Elsa: The Woodland Trust has been brilliant and it initially drew me a whole plan of the woodland and explained everything that was here. The downside is learning how, you know, dreadful the rhododendron is and we’ve got to try and get rid of it. I can see changes in it. I can see that where we have cleared spaces that other things have started to grow. 

>> Beccy Speight, Chief Executive, the Woodland Trust: It’s been fantastic to be here today. It’s a beautiful wood but it has got a real issue with rhododendron here. So, part of our ancient woodland restoration work has been to work with Elsa to really try and tackle that issue. It’s something that’s far too big for her to tackle on her own.  

Ancient woodland restoration is key to the work we’re doing in the Woodland Trust. There’s so little ancient woodland left now in the UK and so much of it needs restoration in some shape or form and so it’s fantastic that we’re able to work with private landowners who want to do the right thing and just need a bit of help from us to make that happen. 

>> ElsaThe fact that the ground is undisturbed for hundreds of years is really magic, you know. It’s just a really special place. You look up and you see the sky and under your feet is ancient soil. It’s just a lovely place. 


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