Woodland project gathers pace

PUBLISHED: 09:34 30 April 2009 | UPDATED: 21:45 31 May 2010

A COMMUNITY project to create a new wood in Birchanger has been given strong public backing. More than 40 people and local authority representatives gathered at a meeting in Stansted to exchange ideas about the many aspects of the proposal to buy 21 acres

A COMMUNITY project to create a new wood in Birchanger has been given strong public backing.

More than 40 people and local authority representatives gathered at a meeting in Stansted to exchange ideas about the many aspects of the proposal to buy 21 acres of unused pasture land and turn it into woodland.

Although those present were mainly residents of the two villages, the enthusiasm for the project brought supporters from as far afield as Broxbourne, Wimbish and Felsted.

Ken McDonald, spokesman for the community group running the project, said: "There was general agreement that the wood should contain a variety of trees, which should not be planted in straight lines, that open glades should be left free of trees, that wildlife should be encouraged and information should be displayed.

"School groups would be invited to plant saplings and members of the community would be encouraged to become 'friends of the wood', helping with the planting of hedgerows and saplings, developing paths, tending fences."

Messages of support from local authorities and pledges of funds from individuals mean that the group is well on the way to raising the necessary funds. Pledges from individuals already amount to over £40,000, but a further £20,000 of private donations is being sought.

It is hoped that this will be matched by pledges from local councils and other organisations to enable the group to meet the guide purchase price of £100,000, as well as having sufficient money to purchase saplings and fencing.

"There are still many things to do besides fundraising before the idea comes to fruition," said Mr McDonald.

"A trust or community interest company would need to be formed and detailed negotiations undertaken with the present owner.

"Formal applications would be made for grants and it is anticipated that a further appeal for private funds will be made by a leaflet drop in Stansted, Birchanger and Bishop's Stortford. The group is also seeking ideas for a name for the proposed new wood."

Mr McDonald is keen to hear from anyone who wishes to help. He can be contacted on 01279 813226 or by e-mail at teskey@btinternet.com

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