Blackhouse Wood saved!

Thursday 27th August 2015

Blackhouse Wood (c) Paul LaneBlackhouse Wood (c) Paul Lane

The rare and endangered dormouse will be able to sleep soundly thanks to the purchase of an ancient semi-natural woodland in the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

dormouse (c) Ian PrattA fundraising appeal was launched 18 months ago to enable the completion of the woodland purchase and start the long-term restoration and visitor access programme. Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, the county’s leading conservation charity, has now signed on the dotted line and is the proud new owner of the 38.5 hectare Blackhouse Wood at Suckley.

More than £200,000 was raised following a public appeal and applications to a number of grant-awarding bodies. Donations by members and supporters of Worcestershire Wildlife Trust were joined by grants including £85,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), £40,000 from long-term supporter Severn Waste Services through the Landfill Communities Fund amongst others*.

Kate Thomas, Head of Resources for the Trust, said “We’re absolutely thrilled to be in a position to buy this fantastic woodland and would like to thank everyone who has helped us to get here.

“The fundraising appeal has been our most successful ever. Our members and the general public have raised more than £100,000 including Gift Aid donations, which is just staggering.

“With everyone’s help, we’ve been able to seize this rare opportunity to buy and protect a piece of ancient woodland with its abundant flora and fauna, including the elusive dormouse.

“The Trust had to commit up to £200,000 of its own resources, which came from kind supporters who left legacies in their wills to ensure wildlife conservation in the county.

“We are confident that securing the future of this special woodland is exactly the sort of action that would fully meet their wishes.”

Restoration begins

wood vetch at Blackhouse Wood (c) Paul LaneThe Trust plans to remove most of the conifers and restock the wood with native trees through a process of natural regeneration as well as additional planting of oak and field maple.

The Heritage Lottery Fund grant is also enabling the Trust to run a range of activities to help people learn more about the importance of woodland habitats to a wide variety of plants and animals. Volunteers will play a crucial role in this, being trained to guide walks, give talks and run specialist courses.

There will be downloadable audio trails for visitors and a pioneering social media campaign using cameras secreted in nest boxes will gain fascinating footage of wildlife.

Common spotted orchids at Blackhouse Wood (c) Paul LaneKate continued “Blackhouse Wood also fulfils a really important role in the wider landscape. It adjoins our Crews Hill nature reserve and is only one kilometre from one of our nature reserves, The Knapp and Papermill; both of which are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

“The western edge of the wood also includes a number of former hand quarries that provide access to the area’s geological strata.

“Buying and protecting the Wood will have a significant contribution to the conservation of a landscape that links the Malvern Hills and the Wyre Forest.”

Reyahn King, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “We are happy to add our support to a project that will secure the future of this important wildlife site, conserve and enhance its biodiversity and provide people with a more rewarding visitor experience.”

*Donations have also been received from The Rowlands Trust, The Banister Charitable Trust, The Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust and The Martin Wills Wildlife Maintenance Trust.

Tagged with: Fundraising, Living Landscapes, Species, Blackhouse Wood