Paths on new forest site opened up to walkers

PUBLISHED: 15:00 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:39 06 May 2010

John Foster from Sandridge Parish Council
1 October 2008

John Foster from Sandridge Parish Council 1 October 2008

© Carlos Reyes-Manzo/Andes Press Agency 020 7613 5417 www.andespressagency.com

RAMBLERS can now walk the permitted paths on part of the 850 acres of land at Sandridge purchased last week by the Woodland Trust to create England s largest new native forest on which 600,000 trees will be planted. The Trust marked its ownership by openi

RAMBLERS can now walk the permitted paths on part of the 850 acres of land at Sandridge purchased last week by the Woodland Trust to create England's largest new native forest on which 600,000 trees will be planted.

The Trust marked its ownership by opening six kissing gates into the site so that the public can walk miles of permissive footpaths through formerly private farmland. The site already co contains pockets of ancient woodland.

The project is estimated to cost £8.5 million to buy the land, plant the trees and look after them for a number of years.

The Trust has already raised more than £4 million towards its target in just two months - enough to encourage it to go ahead with the purchase.

Trust chief executive Sue Holden said: "There is still a long way to go to raise all the funds required to plant 600,000 trees so we are still urgently appealing for funds."

The Trust aims to create the country's largest new continuous broadleaf woodland on an area which is twice the size of Regent's Park and almost rivalling Sherwood Forest.

Toby Bancroft, manager of the project at the Trust, said: "This is the biggest site of its kind in England and taking possession is a major step forward."

"The first trees could be planted before the spring, but planting will get under way in earnest next autumn once environmental and archaeological assessments of the area are complete. It is hoped each of the 600,000 native trees will be planted by volunteers, including local children, over the next five years."

Some of the land is sub-let for farming and currently not open to the public, but 170 acres of the 850 acre site are now publicly accessible, and each year more land will be brought out of agricultural use for tree planting.

"Woodland establishes very quickly," said Sue Holden. "Within two years a tree will be twice the size of the child that planted it and within 12 years we will see a wonderful young forest taking shape.

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