The transformation of Fingle Woods by the Woodland Trust and National Trust has been boosted with initial support, including development funding of £64,900,from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), with plans in place to apply for a full grant at a later date.
The HLF grant will be used to carry out a number of ecological surveys of the wildlife on site, including butterflies, bats and birds, as well as an archaeological survey, which will allow the charities to understand how the landscape has developed over time.
The funding will also help the charities hold a public launch event in the summer, giving people the chance to offer suggestions on what they would like to see on site, as well as learn more about the charities’ long term plans.
David Rickwood, Woodland Trust site manager, said: “It’s a fantastic boost for all involved to receive this funding from the HLF, which will help us learn more about the rich history and wildlife associated with Fingle Woods.
“We’ve now raised £3m towards the acquisition and management of the site with incredible support both locally and nationally. Anyone who hasn’t yet donated can still make a real difference and help us restore these fantastic woods for the benefit of people and wildlife.”
Adrian Colston, General Manager at the National Trust on Dartmoor, added: “We are delighted that the HLF has funded our first round bid. Fingle Woods is huge, providing many opportunities and this funding will enable us to draw up plans which benefit the woods, their wildlife and archaeology. We will also be able to discuss our plans with the local community and other interest groups so that our plans for access and recreation are appropriate and fun.”
The two charities joined forces in August 2013 to purchase and restore the woods which straddle the TeignValley, and recently opened 45km of previously inaccessible pathways on site, allowing visitors to explore routes closed for up to 10 years.
Around two-thirds of Fingle Woods is covered in damaged ancient woodland, planted with conifers, which the charities aim to restore by gradually thinning the conifers over many decades. This will allow native woodland to regenerate, increasing the habitat for species such as pied flycatcher, redstart, wood warbler and fritillary butterflies. Damaged ancient woodland makes up nearly half of the existing ancient woodland left in the UK, which is irreplaceable and covers just 2% of the landscape, with restoration being the only way to protect its long-term future.
To find out more information or donate to the Woodland Trust’s appeal visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/fingle-woods