Wildlife supporters help to save ancient wood

Bury St Edmunds: One of the best ancient woodlands in Britain has been saved, thanks to donations from wildlife supporters.

An appeal was launched in September to save the 16 acres of Bradfield Woods National Nature Reserve, near Bury St Edmunds.

Now, thanks to donations from over 1,000 Suffolk Wildlife Trust supporters, the purchase of the remaining piece of the woods has been completed.

“We received a marvellous response from supporters across the entire county and we are delighted to announce that we have now reached our target of �45,000. It bodes well for the future of Suffolk’s wildlife that so many people have wanted to help,” said SWT development manager Christine Luxton.

With over 370 species of flowering plants and around 420 different fungi, Bradfield Woods is one of the richest woods in Britain and boasts over 700 years of recorded history. Whilst in many woods coppicing had declined by the 1900’s, the demand for poles from the rake factory at Little Whelnetham ensured Bradfield Woods was actively coppiced right through to the 1950’s. It is this annual cropping cycle which maintains the biological richness of the woods, including the spectacular displays of spring flowers and magnificent fungi for which Bradfield Woods is known.

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“This new corner of ancient woodland hasn’t been coppiced for over 60 years. As we get to know the wood and its character we will determine how best to manage it for wildlife. Some areas will be left untouched whilst in others we will gradually restore the coppice rotation to let light through to the woodland floor to encourage the flowers.”

The newly acquired land came close to being lost to arable in 1970.

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As demolition of this corner of the wood was getting underway, a Tree Preservation Order was secured for the surviving woodland and the bulldozers were finally halted.

Forty years on, securing the final piece of ancient woodland will complete the campaign to save Bradfield Woods. The new woodland has been in private ownership and closed to the public for over 40 years. Suffolk Wildlife Trust is now opening up the original ride so that everyone can enjoy this part of the reserve.

Work is also beginning on the green oak centre with the goal of welcoming the first visitors in late summer 2011.

The building is set to combine 21st century engineering and traditional woodsmanship.

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