Wildwood is celebrating after receiving a grant from the Big Lottery Fund to build desperately needed new woodland learning facilities.
As an outdoor destination, Wildwood is at the mercy of the great British weather meaning that in wet or windy conditions the park struggles to offer educational courses and events. This grant will greatly improve Wildwood's educational scope with the provision of two new outdoor learning facilities; a new woodland classroom and a dedicated training workshop.
The two new learning spaces will be built by Wildwood's in-house team using recycled materials and timber from our coppiced woodland in line with Wildwood's commitment to creating environmentally friendly structures in the woodland.
The new log-cabin style woodland classroom will greatly enhance our educational service to school and college students studying topics such as conservation, environmental studies, science and animal behaviour, allowing them work in the woodland through all weathers.
The project will also give 40 volunteer trainees per year the opportunity to get involved in wildlife conservation projects by providing a dedicated training facility. This woodland workshop will provide a much needed sheltered area where our ranger and conservation volunteers can learn tool-use to create bird or bat boxes, create simple structures for our water vole, red squirrel and hazel dormice conservation projects, and create animal activities for enrichment for our endangered wildlife, whilst building confidence and life skills.
Anne Riddell, head of education at Wildwood Trust, said: "We are delighted to have been awarded this grant by the Big Lottery Fund. Our indoor classroom is in high demand and there are times when we have to disappoint schools because we simply cannot fit them all in. Although we offer a range of outdoor activities and workshops as an alternative, the English weather is not always kind. An outdoor classroom which provides shelter so that children can carry out activities in all weathers and provides an overflow for the main classroom is much needed so that children can continue to explore the exciting world outside the classroom."
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Tel: 01227 712 111
Tel: 01227 712 111
About copping at Wildwood
Wildwood is situated amongst 40 acres of ancient woodland, and is part of the Blean, the largest tract of ancient woodland in southern England.
Wildwood's woodlands have always been managed on a coppice rotation which involves harvesting the trees every 5-20 years by cutting them down to ground level and allowing them to grow back from the remaining stump (stool). The resulting timber can then be put to good use.
We continue to manage our woodland by coppicing and we use the timber for around the park for signs, fences and log piles for small mammals and invertebrates living both wild in the woodland and in the enclosures. These provide extra interest for many of our animals as they search the rotting wood for grubs and larvae.
Managing woodlands by coppicing is beneficial to plants and wildlife which move in at their preferred stage of its growth, moving out again as the coppice grows and shades out the light. Wild flower seeds which have lain dormant in the soil, germinate in the new light and rainfall after the coppice is cut and bloom for several years until the tree shoots grow again and shade out the light.
The majority of Wildwood's woodland today is sweet chestnut and silver birch harvested on a 20-year coppicing rotation, with English oaks on a 150-200 year cycle to produce ship-building timbers.