Greensand Trust buys more woodland near Heath and Reach

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Environmental charity The Greensand Trust has acquired four additional plots in Kings Wood, thanks to generous donations, which will enable these areas of the nationally important woodland to be added to the Kings Wood and Rushmere National Nature Reserve to be carefully preserved, managed and protected for current and future generations.

The trust is grateful for the kind support of The Peter Smith Charitable Trust and Bob Hook which made the acquisition possible.

King’s Wood, lying between Heath and Reach and Great Brickhill, is part of the largest area of ancient woodland in Bedfordshire. It has almost certainly been woodland since the original wildwood covered the country after the last ice age.

During the 1960s a large area of the wood was divided into small plots and sold off to a number of owners resulting in fragmented ownership, making management and protection of the wood difficult.

The Greensand Trust, working closely with The Wildlife Trust, Central Bedfordshire Council and Natural England which own other parts of the wood, wishes to secure the remaining plots in private ownership to add them to the area of National Nature Reserve, ensuring that large areas of Kings Wood are preserved and brought into careful management.

Despite the whole wood being designated as part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) only half of the wood benefits from the protection of National Nature Reserve status with the rest remaining fragmented in private ownership. The areas which are protected benefit from proper management, including the reinstating of areas of coppice to encourage woodland plants and insects that thrive in open areas. Sunlit corridors through the wood and areas left to develop naturally provide shady, humid conditions with mature trees containing valuable deadwood habitat. This traditional form of woodland management is highly effective in creating a rich and varied habitat for different species to thrive in.

Kings Wood supports a range of important and rare species including a large amount of small-leaved lime, a rare tree that was believed to be a common species in the wildwood as well as both the sessile and pedunculate oak; a large population of lily-of-the-valley; beautiful woodland butterflies including silver washed fritillary, white admiral, purple emperor and purple hairstreak; adders and great crested newts, and up to seven bat species including the nationally rare barbastelle bat.

Peter Smith of The Peter Smith Charitable Trust and chairman of The Greensand Trust, said: “We’re delighted to have acquired these four additional sites within Kings Wood enabling us to bring these areas of important woodland and the wildlife within it back into careful management as part of the Kings Wood and Rushmere National Nature Reserve. This will help ensure the woodland and its wildlife continue to thrive today and in the future.”

Bob Hook added: “Kings Wood is a wonderful wildlife habitat. I was more than happy to contribute to the purchase of these fabulous plots knowing they are now in good hands being looked after by The Greensand Trust.”

The Greensand Trust can only purchase land for conservation with support from the public – to donate visit www.greensandtrust.org