East Wood: Success for crowdfunding campaign to buy Yorkshire community woodland
As neighbourhood groups heard of the sale they quickly launched a campaign to save it, and as the deadline neared members said they were "blown away" by the community response.
The Friends of East Wood, made up of local groups, has now announced that the offer to buy the woodland, known as Weston Woods locally, has been accepted.
"The woodland will now be accessible to the community in perpetuity, held by Menston Area Nature Trust," they said. "We have been blown away by the incredible response to our campaign, with close to 1,500 people donating and raising a whopping £133,000 to date.
"This is just amazing and is a testament to our fabulous community and their connection to this wonderful area of accessible greenspace."
The sale has been largely helped with a philanthropic loan from environmental campaigner Julia Davies of We Have The Power, and the group has extended their "huge and heartfelt" thanks.
"Land often goes for far more than the guide price, but we didn’t want to show our hand too publicly before we threw our cap in the ring," they said. "We’ll need to pay Julia back so that she can offer other groups the same financial support. So we still need your help."
The groups will now continue fundraising to pay off the loan, as well as covering costs for legal fees and tax. Then it will be on to managing the woodland.
The woodland was marketed for sale by Dacre, Son and Hartley, with a suggestion it had potential as a productive timber plantation as well as for private recreational use.
The 20-acre mixed woodland, which was planted after 1600 so is not considered ‘ancient’, is home to deer, owls, and woodpeckers, and is known for its bluebell and wild garlic displays.
Among the groups is Otley 2030, Menston Area Nature Trust, Wharfedale Naturalists Society, Wildlife Friendly Otley, Climate Action Ilkley, Climate Action Menston and the Yorkshire Rewilding Network. To donate to the crowdfunder visit: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/otley-east-wood-community-buyout.