Appeal joy for ancient woods

Greno Woods - pic Chris Senior
Greno Woods - pic Chris Senior

CAMPAIGNERS have succeeded in securing the long-term future of some of Sheffield’s most important ancient woodland.

The Wildlife Trust for Sheffield and Rotherham has raised £720,000 for the purchase of a large part of Greno Woods after an appeal, publicised in the Sheffield Telegraph, prompted a flood of donations.

Cathy Slater, head of development, said: “The response from our members and the general public has been amazing, and it’s wonderful to hear so many stories about why this beautiful woodland has such a special place in people’s hearts”.

The purchase of 143 hectares of the woods, between Grenoside, Ecclesfield and Chapeltown, is under way and should be complete by the end of the month.

The largest area of the woods has been held by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for 18 months, while the trust faced a deadline of the end of March to raise the money. However, he appeal will continue, with the aim of raising £1m so all the land can be bought and given a new lease of life.

Greno Woods is one of the largest and most wildlife-rich ancient woodlands in Yorkshire, but is described as “tired”, and the trust wants to introduce a management programme for the benefit of the habitat, wildlife and the many users, including walkers, horse riders, joggers and mountain bikers. Plans include improving footpaths and bridleways, replacing coniferous trees with wildlife-friendly broad-leaved species and controlling bracken and birch which has spread on to rare and valuable heathland.

It is also intended to promote traditional skills such as coppicing and charcoal making.

The largest donation is £350,000 from Viridor Credits Environmental Company.

General manager Lisa Nelson said the purchase of Greno Woods by the trust “is an essential step in securing the long-term future of our remaining ancient woodland for the enjoyment of current and future generations”.

Other funders include the Banister Charitable Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the JG Graves Charitable Trust, Marjorie Coote Animal Charity Trust and Sheffield Town Trust.

An article in the Sheffield Telegraph produced an “amazing” response, said the trust.

Parts of the woods which were thinned last winter are already showing signs of improvement as more sunlight reaches the woodland floor to encourage the rejuvenation of wildflowers and shrubs. This year’s felling work is now complete and these areas will also soon regenerate.

The trust is working with Silvapower Ltd, which will buy timber from the conifer plantation to be turned into woodchip fuel for boilers in homes and schools.