A WILDLIFE charity is appealing for £1m to buy more than 400 acres of Yorkshire woodland which has been in the hands of private owners for more than two decades.
Sheffield Wildlife Trust is planning to buy 418 acres of the 440-acre Greno Woods, to the north of the city, and make it more attractive to visitors, with new signage, information boards and organised activities such as rambles.
Head of land management at the trust Roy Mosley said: “The site was in private ownership for a number of years but the owner, for whatever reason, decided to sell it. The woods were put on the open market in four different lots, split into four different pieces. We thought that, as this is the second biggest piece of woodland in Yorkshire and the Humber – when you add it together with Wharncliffe Woods – the last thing you want to do is start breaking it up into different parts.
“You’d lose something in terms of management and recreation, so what we decided to do was buy it ourselves.”
As the trust did not have the money for the purchase outright, the woods were bought on its behalf by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and a private investor, so the land could be taken off the open market.
Within the next 18 months, Sheffield Wildlife Trust has to raise £1m to pay back the buyers – and the fundraising challenge has got off to a flying start.
Mr Mosley said: “We took on the management of the woodland about six months ago and started raising funds at the same time. We’re currently at about £400,000, which has been raised from an appeal to the members of Sheffield Wildlife Trust.”
More than 60 bird species have been recorded in the woodland, including the linnet, redpoll and little owl.
As part of its new management strategy, the trust has begun clearing some trees within the wood, to let in more light and improve conditions for wildlife. Those trees that are felled are then chopped up and used by the company Silvapower as chippings for biomass boilers, to power public buildings in nearby Barnsley.
Once the fundraising has been completed and the trust is in full control of Greno Woods, it intends to make a number of further improvements at the site.
To find out more about the appeal, or to donate money to Sheffield Wildlife Trust, visit the website at www.grenowoods.com.