Despite the disappointing news announced this morning about the un-successful bid by the the National Trust to acquire a section of iconic estuary and coastline in Devon, it has been able to celebrate the full acquisition of Fingle Woods on the edge of Dartmoor with the Woodland Trust today.
The two charities have reached the £3.8m funding target which means the entire 825 acre site is now fully in their care.
The final piece of the funding puzzle was provided by a grant of £845,000 from Viridor Credits Environmental Company, via the Landfill Communities Fund, which enabled the charities to purchase the outstanding piece of land within Fingle Woods which had yet to be secured. To mark the milestone both the Woodland Trust and National Trust Chief Executives took part in a symbolic partnership agreement signing.
The two charities need to raise a further £1.2 million which will allow them to carry out much needed restoration work on site over coming years, which will improve the woodland habitats and encourage a greater variety of wildlife to make their homes within Fingle Woods.
Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust Chief Executive, said: “This is a landmark project between two of the countries’ leading conservation organisations and we’ve received fantastic support to make the purchase of Fingle Woods a reality.
“There is still a long way to go restoring the woods so we need further financial support, but in the meantime we’d encourage people to come and see the site for themselves and be inspired!”
Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust, added: “This is the first time that the National Trust has formed a land management partnership with the Woodland Trust. We firmly believe that forming such partnerships in the future and working on a landscape scale is the essential thing for us to do if we are to stem the decline in biodiversity in this country.”
The charities marked the milestone with a public open day, giving visitors the chance to explore the site in a Land Rover, take part in bushcraft activity, build dormouse boxes and see heavy horses at work. People also heard more about the charities’ plans for Fingle Woods, including the restoration work and opportunities for volunteering.
Gareth Williams, Viridor Credits Acting General Manager, said: “Fingle Woods represents an exciting opportunity to not only save one of a few precious scraps of ancient woodland, but also to engage with the community to demonstrate why it is so important to protect this important habitat.”
The remaining funding is needed to restore the two-thirds of Fingle Woods which is covered by conifers but has ancient woodland species laying dormant underneath. By gradually thinning the conifers over many decades, light levels reaching the forest floor will increase allowing native woodland to regenerate, benefitting species such as the pied flycatcher, redstart, wood warbler and fritillary butterflies.
Damaged ancient woodland makes up nearly half of the existing ancient woodland left in the UK, which is irreplaceable and covers just 2% of the landscape, restoration is the only way to improve its long-term future.