Forest project reaches £75k target

AN ambitious countryside project to create a major new wood and grassland area has hit its £75,000 funding target thanks to the support of East Anglian Daily Times readers.

AN ambitious countryside project to create a major new wood and grassland area has hit its £75,000 funding target thanks to the support of East Anglian Daily Times readers.

Conservation group The Woodland Trust was gifted money for the purchase of a 505-acre site surrounding the village of Fordham and asked the public to help it raise the remaining money needed to complete the £2.1 million project.

The charity hopes the site on the Essex/Suffolk border will go some way to recreating woodlands like those of years gone which have disappeared in the tide of progress.

The funding target has been reached just a year after the EADT-supported campaign was launched and the work at the site, which is just a few miles from Colchester, has already resulted in new wildlife settling in.


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Celebrating the news, the project's patron and celebrated local author, Ronald Blythe, said people should all try to visit the 500-acre site to see it progress in the coming years.

Special days involving the local community and school pupils have resulted in thousands of trees being planted.

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More than 200,000 trees will make up the project and work is currently being completed on a visitors' car park.

Geoff Sinclair, project manager at Fordham Wood, said the positive results of the work were beginning to show already.

He said: "The benefits are not just going to be on the site itself as in the long term there will be positive impacts for wildlife in the Colne Valley.

"It is also very exciting now to see what has happened, there have been changes and the grassland already has more nesting birds like skylarks but there will be big changes in the next five years.

"I recently took people around a site where the trees were planted 12 years ago and there was a lot of natural regeneration there.

"At Fordham, within five to 10 years, people will think they are actually in a wood and actually have that feeling."

Mr Blythe, the patron of the Forest of the Future project, and said it was "magnificent" news that the target had been hit.

The 81-year-old, who wrote the acclaimed novel Akenfield, said: "It is the most beautiful area and you can see Colchester in the distance.

"Lots of trees have been planted by the people of Essex and Suffolk and anyone can go there – it is everlasting really.

"I have walked round it and it is lovely to think that we have it on our doorstop for years to come."

Planting of the oak, ash, hazel, hornbeam and aspen began last November when 1,000 primary school children went to the site over a period of two weeks.

There were also tree dedications and the fundraising saw major donations from a host of local groups.

n The next planting event will be on Saturday November 20 from 11am until 3pm.

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