We've done it: Balls Wood is secure

With the exciting news that the future of Balls Wood has been secured, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust says thanks for your help

WE are delighted to report that Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has been successful in its campaign to secure Balls Wood Nature Reserve for future generations. And it's very much thanks to the help given to us by the community.As regular readers of this magazine will know, there was a real concern for the future of this beautiful 145-acre woodland near Hertford Heath. The site is particularly noted for its butterfly populations, and supports wildlife as diverse as woodpeckers, badgers, tawny owls, frogs, newts and many insects and plants. All this was at risk when its previous owners, the Forestry Commission, decided to sell the land. As we have managed parts of Balls Wood on behalf of The Forestry Commission for more than 30 years, they gave us the first option to buy it with the adjacent Hobbyhorse Wood. This was a great opportunity to save the wood for wildlife and people but the challenge for the last ten months has been to raise the money to buy the wood.

How you helpedOur task was to raise �150,000 from local community groups and public donations in order to unlock grants for the additional money needed to buy the wood. We have now succeeded in our campaign and the purchase has been funded by Natural England through Defra's Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, Groundwork Hertfordshire through Lafarge Aggregates Limited, Hertfordshire County Council and various Charitable Trusts.People got involved in a huge range of ways - from bird watching challenges, cake sales, sponsored stair climbs, runs and walks, railway station collections, and pub quizzes to guided walks, talks, garage sales and a big duck race. The tremendous support came from conservation groups, schools and the local community as well as people who no longer live in the county but wanted to help protect an important Hertfordshire wildlife haven.

A staggering repsonseJudy Adams, Chief Executive of HMWT, says, 'This is a fantastic result for us and for the people of Hertfordshire. We are staggered by the response from everyone. The fundraising activities were particularly significant because they helped us achieve the support of major grants and I would like to thank everyone for helping us safeguard this wonderful woodland. This is an excellent example of how individuals can really make a difference to the local environment and help inspire the generous support of our grant funders. Together we have secured Balls Wood for generations of wildlife to thrive in and for people to enjoy for many years to come.' Now that we have the opportunity to manage the whole site, including Hobbyhorse Wood, we'll be working to restore and create new habitat to encourage wildlife to move between it and neighbouring Hertford Heath Nature Reserve and nearby Broxbourne Woods. Balls Wood has the real potential to become a 'wildlife corridor', providing a wider area for species to inhabit and offering them better chances of survival. So if you made a contribution to this huge fundraising effort, pat yourself on the back - it's all been worthwhile. Thank you so much - we can all rest safe in the knowledge that Balls Wood and its wildlife is secure for generations to come.Gobions Wood becomes Wildlife Trust Nature ReserveOn March 20, Gobions Woodland Trustees signed over the ownership of Gobions Wood to the care of Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Although we have been working with the Gobions Woodland Trust for a number of years, Gobions Woodland Trustees were anxious to secure the reserve's long term future and welcomed the opportunity to have this 45-hectare site formally and fully included in our register of nature reserves. Gobions Wood has long held an important place in the hearts of the people of Brookmans Park, Potters Bar and surrounding areas. In 1986 the Gobions Woodland Trust, supported by local people, saved the woodland and adjoining pasture from the imminent danger of development.The nature reserve is a beautiful place, consisting mostly of ancient woodland. It includes the remains of the 18th century Pleasure Gardens of Gubbins House, designed by Charles Bridgeman, Royal Gardner to George II and is part of the English Heritage registered garden on account of its trees, fungi and other species. The reserve contains ash and field maple and oak woodland but the range of other tree species found there is surprising. The woodland is renowned locally for its display of bluebells and wood anemones in April. Other woodland flowers include wood sorrel, pignut and moschatel.We are thrilled to be taking on the responsibility for this special place and are grateful for the commitment, inspiration and good work undertaken by the Gobions Woodland Trust over the years. We are proud to have this opportunity to take up the baton of their efforts and look forward to working with them and local people to manage this lovely nature reserve into the future.Bernard Spatz, Trustee of Gobions Woodland Trust said, 'We're delighted to have secured the future of Gobions Wood as a nature reserve and public resource. Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust's proven commitment to managing land for people and wildlife means we are confident the wood is in safe hands.'

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