Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust have met their target of £104,000 to buy and care for Astonbury Wood near Stevenage.
The appeal, which had a target of £104,000, has already raised over £107,000 from more than 1,300 supporters in just six weeks and donations are still coming in. The Trust has been overwhelmed with support from the local community, and also received donations from as far afield as Inverness and Truro.
Astonbury Wood, a 54-acre ancient woodland was put up for sale last year, prompting concern among the local community who petitioned the County Council to protect the site. Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust launched an appeal in May to raise enough money to purchase the lease for the site and to manage it for wildlife and the community into the future. The Trust will now begin the process of purchasing the long-term lease for the wood.
Lesley Davies, the Trust’s Chief Executive, says: ‘We are thrilled with the support we have received, and are continuing to receive, from the local community and totally blown away by their generosity. Ancient woodlands like Astonbury Wood are completely irreplaceable and we are very proud that the public have backed our bid to buy the lease for this important site. We hope that we’ll be able to welcome people to the Trust’s newest reserve before too long.’
The fundraising campaign will remain open until the end of July and additional funds raised from this campaign will be used to care for Astonbury Wood and the Trust’s other nature reserves.
Ancient woodlands have been growing for hundreds of years and provide one of the richest habitats for wildlife. However, as they don’t currently enjoy special protection, it is all the more important to protect them for the future. Astonbury Wood is home to beautiful woodland flowers and is carpeted with bluebells each spring and hundreds of different fungi in the autumn.
In Hertfordshire, one-fifth of the wildlife assessed in Hertfordshire’s State of Nature Report, published by the Trust in 2020, is currently either locally extinct or threatened with extinction. Habitat loss and fragmentation have sent populations plummeting. The report concludes that at least 30% of land must be protected for wildlife in order to combat the ecological and climate crisis.
To support the campaign, visit hertswildlifetrust.org.uk/astonburywood.