Woodland officer appointed for new Heartwood Forest near St Albans

PUBLISHED: 10:13 01 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:57 06 May 2010

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A NEW woodland officer has been appointed for Heartwood, the new native forest planned for Sandridge. Louise Neicho is working for owners, the Woodland Trust, to help develop the site and oversee planting of 600.000 trees at the trust s new 858-acre for

A NEW woodland officer has been appointed for Heartwood, the new native forest planned for Sandridge.

Louise Neicho is working for owners, the Woodland Trust, to help develop the site and oversee planting of 600.000 trees at the trust's new 858-acre forest on the edge of the village

Her role at Heartwood, the subject of the trust's ongoing £8.5 million funding appeal, will include welcoming community groups, schools and businesses to plant native broadleaf trees amid pockets of existing ancient woodland.

She will also help to deliver an access network for cyclists, walkers and horse riders - in contrast to the barbed wire and fences she recalls from her first experience of the site.

Her dedicated appointment is seen as marking an important step in public consultation with local groups on how Heartwood should develop.

Louise, who spent her childhood in London, fell in love with the local countryside when she came to Herts to go to university.

She said: "Until then I had few experiences of woods but I spent much of my spare time exploring the local area and quickly discovered my passion for trees and woods. "Nomansland Common and its surrounding countryside was always one of my favourite places to explore but I found it frustrating when I came up against fences and barbed wire.

"So when I heard about the Woodland Trust buying the land to create England's largest new native woodland, I knew that I had to get involved one way or another."

She added: "I'm particularly excited about this project not only because it is on my doorstep or because it will be England's new continuous forest but because I can help to safeguard some of our precious green spaces and build a woodland that will be appreciated for generations to come."

Louise previously ran a community conservation project for Earthworks St Albans, a local environmental charity offering outdoor work opportunities mainly to people with learning disabilities and mental health issues. Before that she was project officer and community gardener with the London Wildlife Trust.

She gained an honours degree in conservation and recreation management at the University of Herts and subsequently studied garden design and arboriculture at Capel Manor College in Enfield.

Blob* A couple more walks and talks to give local people a chance to find out more about Heartwood Forest are being held this month.

The first is at 11am next Thursday, March 12, and the second at 2pm on Tuesday, March 17. Guided walks around the site will start at the Scout hut in Sandridgebury Lane in Sandridge.

Further information about the project can be found at www.woodland-trust.org.uk/heartwood, the new blog site www.heartwoodforest.wordpress.com or phone 01476 581111.

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