1 in 3
trees we plant is funded by gifts in wills

Gifts in wills are vital for everything we do

Every single one of our woods across the UK has been supported by wonderful forward-thinking people who kindly left a gift in their will.

From fighting development threats and restoring damaged ancient woodland, to acquiring new sites and planting native trees, gifts in wills are essential for our work.

The following amazing sites, alongside many other special woods across the UK, have been created, safeguarded or restored thanks to those individuals whose love of trees and woods meant they remembered the Trust in their will.

Credit: Steve Carter / WTML

Ben Shieldaig, Scotland

In the breathtaking north west Highlands, our first mountain Ben Shieldaig rises from the shores of Loch Torridon. Two different types of ancient woodland can be found spread over its 3,800 acres (1,540 ha), survivors from when the west coast of Scotland was one giant rainforest. We have embarked on a 20 year restoration plan here that will include increasing native woodland and creating new havens for wildlife.

A generous gift in a will, alongside support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery and a national well-supported fundraising campaign, was instrumental in Ben Shieldaig’s purchase.

Credit: John Bridges / WTML

Glen Finglas, Scotland

Glen Finglas lies at the heart of Loch Lomond and at 12,000 acres (4,870 ha), it is a wonderful expanse of ancient woodland, lochs, open heathland and wood-pasture.

We are working with The Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve to help restore the landscape and create one of Scotland’s largest broadleaved forests. For almost 400 years Glen Finglas was a royal hunting forest and today it is home to some of Scotland’s most iconic wildlife including red deer, golden eagles, red squirrels and black grouse. Its dramatic landscape has been immortalised by poetry and paintings from Sir Walter Scott to Sir John Everett Millais.

Three specific gifts kindly left in wills and restricted to our work in Scotland have been critical to our work here.

Credit: Mark Zytynski / WTML

Wentwood, Wales

In years gone by, Wentwood was part of the hunting grounds of Chepstow Castle; sadly in the 1950s and 60s much of its deciduous trees were felled and it was replanted with conifers.

Thanks to four gifts in wills, and a hugely successful fundraising appeal, Wentwood’s 870 acres (350 ha) of precious woodland, is regenerating beautifully and is now home to a huge variety of wildlife. Without our generous supporters the chance to restore this vast area of woodland may have been lost forever.

Credit: John Bridges / WTML

Brackfield Wood, Northern Ireland

Brackfield Wood is a tribute to those who lost their lives across Ireland during the First World War. Nestled in the Faughan Valley, and just outside Derry/Londonderry, the site boasts mature and ancient woodland as well as thousands of young trees.

The wood is a living legacy to those affected by the conflict and is a beautiful, peaceful place for quiet reflection. The area supports an impressive array of wildlife including red squirrels, otters and kingfishers. Gifts in wills were vital in making our vision a reality in this wonderful place.

Credit: Daniel Romani / WTML

Low Burnhall, England

At Low Burnhall, in County Durham, ancient woodland cloaks some of the steep slopes alongside the River Wear and now vibrant, young woodland protects this special habitat and provides space for nature to thrive.

Three crucial legacies, gifted without restrictions, were essential in securing the land at auction. Gifts like these are particularly crucial in urgent situations when other fundraising simply can’t be completed in time and enable us to move quickly when special sites come on the market.

Credit: Judith Parry / WTML

Heartwood Forest, England

Just north of St Albans in Hertfordshire is Heartwood Forest, an extraordinary and special place. Four gifts in wills were absolutely vital in acquiring this 860 acre (370 ha) site, and a fifth has been instrumental in its transformation into England’s largest area of uninterrupted woodland.

Thanks to tens of thousands of volunteers, over half a million trees have been planted and meadows sown. Whilst it’s still young and growing, the mosaic of connected habitats – rare ancient woodland, wildflower meadows and new woods – makes it one of our top sites for people and wildlife alike.

Credit: Phil Formby / WTML

Avoncliff Wood, England

Close to Bath, Avoncliff has been untouched for many years. It is is a peaceful 75 acre (30ha) wood full of ancient ash coppice and oak trees, with carpets of wild garlic in the spring. Bordering the wood are grassland fields, newly planted woods and orchards with numerous footpaths, including one running alongside the River Avon.

The ancient woodland area is currently closed to the public. It has become a living laboratory to help us fight tree disease and to see how it flourishes without disturbance. However, there are many paths that skirt the wood and cross fields around it, allowing glimpses into its hidden wonder.

The difference you could make

Many woodlands only exist because of the passion and generosity of people who choose to remember the Woodland Trust in their will. You too can make a real difference for UK trees and wildlife with a gift in your will. Here are a few examples of what your legacy could achieve.

Plant new trees

Creating new woodland is at the heart of what we do. Your legacy gift could help us plant trees and mobilise communities, landowners and volunteers to get even more trees in the ground. The UK’s woodland cover is currently just 13%, making the UK one of the least wooded in Europe; we want to grow tree cover to at least 19%.

Protect woods at risk

Ancient woods are rare and irreplaceable ecosystems, supporting more wildlife than any other land-based habitat in the UK. It’s up to us to protect these unique woods, and ensure precious habitats remain for future generations.

Restore woods to their natural state

Many ancient woodlands have been planted with non-native trees and damaged by invasive species. A gift in your will can help sensitively restore these increasingly rare woodlands to their former glory.

Open up woods for people to enjoy

There are over 1,270 woods in our care and your gift could ensure they’re kept open for thousands of visitors to explore each year, free of charge.

Save trees through research

Your gift could support vital research into land use, tree diseases and woodland management, leading the way in UK conservation and ensuring the Woodland Trust’s work has the greatest impact.

Lobby government about tree conservation

Your support means trees and woodland remain on the government’s agenda in future, by lobbying for protection and planting schemes.

We joined the Woodland Trust in 1984. Both of us really enjoy walking in the woods and in the countryside. Trees are very important to us.

As a child I often went for walks with my parents and woodlands were very important places for us. We looked at flowers, we looked at the trees, we loved birds, all sorts of nature.

One of the things I've really enjoyed is that despite always living in urban areas it's always been easy to get to places that were green, wooded, outdoors. And although there's some things you can do in your garden - it's nice to have trees, it's lovely to see the birds come, they're fledging at the moment - but actually to get out and away from an urban built up area is a joy. So we've spent over the years lots of time walking in managed woodland, sometimes in very ancient woodland, and I guess for us, the fact that the Woodland Trust is here to both protect the ancient woodland and to plant loads of new trees is a great combination. So that's one of the reasons why we're supporters.

I think it's important for us that we know that we're contributing to something that's going forward into the future. It's going to be very important for generations to have wonderful woodlands and for ancient woodlands to be protected. So that's something we very much support - both the protection and the maintenance of woodland, but also the campaigning side of the Woodland Trust to make sure that woodlands are not destroyed by infrastructure developments. It's very important to us to feel that there's a future for trees that we've seen today - very tiny little ones are going to be massive great ones long after we're gone! Part of our legacy will be that those can be there and other people can enjoy them.

I think the risk these days is big infrastructure projects that can run the risk of destroying without thinking about it.

I suppose it sort of chimes with us because we're celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary this year and I think probably for most of our married life we've enjoyed woodlands and walking and the kinds of areas the Woodland Trust supports. So that I think we can celebrate massively. And I think it's also producing the legacy for another 50, 100, whatever years to come.

You can plant gardens for today and next year and next week but you plant trees not for now but for children and grandchildren. That's really important to us, that legacy, and making a commitment to the Woodland Trust is an opportunity really to think about the future and not just now.

I want ancient trees and woods to have the same protection as listed buildings in the future, if not more, as they can never be replaced. Knowing that a small area of woodland is preserved by my legacy gives me great peace of mind.

David, from Colwyn Bay
Woodland Trust supporter