A NEW initiative has been launched with the aim of promoting the restoration of ancient woodland.
The Woodland Trust, one of the UK’s biggest conservation charities, launched the scheme in Newdigate with a practical demonstration of woodland management techniques and a site tour showing the impact non-native plants can have in wooded areas.
It is hoped the scheme will encourage landowners to return woodland areas to their original state and preserve them.
Although Surrey has more ancient woodland than most counties in England, it is also affected by more threats than other parts of the country.
According to the Trust, 38 ancient woods in the county have been put at risk from developments in the past ten years, which has resulted in the loss of five such areas.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £1.9million to fund the project, which aims to restore 52,000 hectares of ancient woodland, from Surrey to Scotland.
Peter and Brenda Tebby are currently restoring areas of their 44-acre woodland complex at Reffolds Copse, in Newdigate, where the information day took place on September 23.
Mr Tebby said: “Knowing we are helping protect and restore a fragment of ancient woodland means a great deal to us.
“We were complete novices before we started, but it hasn’t held us back.
“We’re lucky to have excellent support from family, friends and neighbours, as well as professional organisations, and our partnership with LC Energy provides a useful income from thinnings gathered during our work.”
Jim Smith-Wright, ancient woodland restoration project officer at the Woodland Trust, said: “The purpose of this event was to encourage landowners to have a go at woodland management or make small amends to what they’re currently doing.
“It is hoped these efforts will then make big changes to the future of original ancient habitats that have been suppressed by other species planted among them.
“Working with landowners as part of this project is vital to make sure we restore and protect what’s left of this precious resource.”
For more information, visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk