The Woodland Trust’s Hucking Estate is going to be made bigger and better after donations raised three quarters of a million pound in just three months.
The success follows the charity’s campaign which called for help when a 116 acre piece of farmland went up for sale in February next to the existing woodland. Wildlife lovers and nature enthusiasts quickly responded, and over £100,000 has been raised by the people of Kent alone. The rest has been secured from Woodland Trust members and supporters throughout the UK, and other sources like charitable trusts.
It has meant that – rather than being put on the open market for anyone to purchase – the land will be allowed to naturally regenerate, with tree species seeding themselves and eventually turning into thriving woodland. The Trust will also manage areas of chalk grassland in the extension, a priority habitat that has seen a loss of up to 85% in the Kent Downs.
As a result, the land is now protected from development and the habitat available to Hucking’s ten threatened bird species, 21 different butterflies and three types of bat, will be increased. The Trust will also spend the summer months removing barriers and improving access to the new area; offering everyone the chance to wander and explore.
Clive Steward, site manager for the Woodland Trust, said: “Without the generosity of the local community, we never would have been able to purchase this land – we are incredibly grateful and amazed by how quickly we raised the funds. Everyone has contributed to a piece of the landscape that will now be released from human influence, and become a home for wildlife.
“As we look towards opening up the land for everyone, we’re aware that our work is only just beginning. I hope that even more people will be inspired by our successes so far, and will support our ongoing work at Hucking.”
When the Hucking Estate was bought by the Trust in 1997 it was the charity’s largest woodland in England. It was a site in desperate need of care and attention, after years of intensive farming, bulldozed hedgerows and ancient woodland that had been poorly managed.
The Hucking Estate is just one of 31 Woods owned by the Trust in Kent. Others include Ashenbank Wood near Cobham, Dering Wood near Pluckley, and Victory Wood near Canterbury. In 2017 the Trust will have to spend over £275,000 on maintaining these woods. It is only through the support of Woodland Trust members that this investment is possible.
For those who want to visit Hucking, there is a summer walk being held on the 22 July. Visit woodlandtrust.org.uk/get-involved to find out more.