A letter from our Chief Executive Peter Smith
Help to save a precious Woodland before it is lost forever
I am writing to you today so you can be part of our urgent appeal to save a stunning piece of ancient woodland and to help protect the rare and threatened wildlife it harbours for future generations. But the clock is ticking and without your donation today, this natural woodland treasure could be lost to us forever.
"Join me in our urgent appeal to save a wildlife haven"
One of the last pieces of the historic woodland that surrounds Wildwood’s animal park is up for sale. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we have a very short time to raise the funds to buy this woodland and put it into charity ownership to protect it for all time. If we do not act today, these woods could be snapped up by greedy developers and the intricate diversity of their wildlife habitats spoilt by uncaring new owners.
You could help Wildwood to protect a vast array of threatened native animals and plants that live within these woods, which might otherwise be lost.
Perhaps even more importantly, your gift will enable our dedicated staff, each one of them an expert in their field, to inspire young minds to learn about the woodland’s outstanding ecology and our precious natural heritage.
From toddlers to university students, together we will give our next generation of young people the opportunity to learn from, and to care for, some of the UK’s most amazing woodland wildlife.
Why is it so important to buy this woodland?
West Blean Woods is a very important site which can be documented back to medieval times and is a relic of the original ancient wild woods that once covered Britain. It is now part of one of the largest concentration of ancient semi- natural woodland and conifer plantations left in England. The forest complex is of national and international significance and has received the highest conservation designations, including Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Area of Conservation and National Nature Reserve
The part of West Blean and Thornden woods that we are hoping to save extends for five acres to the North of Wildwood Trust’s Park, and is some of the last of the woodland to remain outside conservation ownership.
Poor management previously has meant that the woods are not in the condition they could be, both to support a broad range of flora and fauna, but also to act as a wildlife corridor joining other nearby woodlands in a mosaic of connected habitat, to allow the ongoing survival of many of our most important woodland species.
Enduring ownership by a dedicated conservation charity like Wildwood Trust is the only way to guarantee that the site will have the sympathetic woodland management it needs to support the delicate balance of its native ecosystems and to ensure a sustainable future where wildlife will be able to flourish forever.
What is so special about this site?
The woods contain a diverse mix of trees including arguably our best known and loved native tree, the English oak - mature oak trees have complex ecosystems which are extremely beneficial for a whole range of wildlife, with one tree hosting up to 324 varieties of lichen and 284 species of insect, which in turn provide food for many of our woodland birds, not to mention the many mammals that feed on the acorns below.
As well as supporting a variety of important trees and plants, including carpets of scented English bluebells in spring-time, this woodland provides a sanctuary to many of our most precious and endangered animal species such as the elusive hazel dormice, and the iconic hedgehog, which is thought to have suffered from rapidly declining numbers in this country over recent years. Ten out of the 15 species of bats recorded in Kent are known to live within this woodland, including the large noctule bat, which is in serious decline and roosts within the larger trees here.
West Blean woods is an essential habitat for the heath fritillary, one of Britain’s rarest butterflies
748 different species of birds have been recorded in this area of the Blean woods, including 50 rare and 13 nationally-scarce woodland birds. Of particular note are the RSPB red-listed nightjar, tree pipit and nightingale. Rare reptiles such as the grass snake and slow worm rely on this type of habitat for their survival, as do amphibians including the protected great crested newt which lives in areas where there are ponds.
The site harbours a wide variety of insect life including the rare ladybird coccinella distincta and the globally- threatened stag beetle. The woods are famed for colonies of the iconic red wood ant, which constructs towering and impressively engineered woodland cities from the multitude of woody materials on the forest floor. The Blean complex is thought to shelter 60% of the world population of the extremely rare heath fritillary butterfly. With sympathetic woodland management over a number of years, it may even become possible to reintroduce the secretive pine marten to this area, and in doing so support the return of our native red squirrel.
What your donation will achieve
Your gift will do something amazing for wildlife. It will pay for the purchase of this precious woodland habitat. Once we have secured it for posterity, Wildwood Trust is committed to its care and ongoing development as a centre of excellence for scientific study and outdoor learning, led by our outstanding education and conservation teams.
The costs of woodlands across the UK have spiralled out of control in recent years. Mass privatisation, counterproductive tax breaks and subsidies have let loose a wave of speculation, pushing up land prices beyond the ability of charities to protect places like this.
As a charity, Wildwood Trust relies on generous donations and legacies from members of the public. Without the support of yourself and others like you, we would simply not be able to continue our work to protect British wildlife for future generations.
How you can help:
£12 will pay for a dormouse nest box to enable this endearing animal to populate the woodland
£25 will enable us to buy 100 square foot of woodland habitat – safe forever.
£75 would provide a set of woodland sampling equipment for students
£150 will pay for the installation of a bat box and ongoing monitoring to help a threatened species
£250 will pay for 1,000 Square foot of woodland Habitat – safe forever
£1,000 will pay for 4,000 Square foot of woodland Habitat – safe forever
Any amount, no matter how small, will help us towards achieving our target!
Click here to donate now
Please donate now to help us to save this precious woodland
Click here to donate now
or call our office on 01227 712 111 9am to 5pm to make a donation by credit card
Thank you - your support is truly appreciated
from all Wildwood Trust email communications