Appeals: the Woodland Trust

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Simon Mageean, Woodland Officer for THE WOODLAND TRUST, on a bridge crossing St Helen's Canal at Big Wood, Runcorn, Cheshire. The wood, with 17 neighbouring woods round Runcorn and 22 round Warrington - 403 acres in all - has been given to the Woodland Trust by the Commission for the New Towns. This is the largest gift of land the trust has received in its 20-year history, writes Joanna Gibbon.

Each wood is predominantly broad-leaf and is currently being surveyed in the interests of long-term management strategy. The CNT has geared the woods to local use: there are many paths, stiles and gates. The trust intends to concentrate on the landscape and the habitat provided for wildlife. Trees to be found at Big Wood, which is 23 acres in size, are oak, lime, alder, horse chestnut and Scots pine; other specimen trees are holly, hawthorn and Norway maple. There are 100 plant species, many birds to be seen and bat-boxes. Another wood, Floodbrook Clough, also at Runcorn, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest: set in a deep valley, the wood has a wet-soil climate at its base, where mosses, liverworts and various small plants thrive.

As the woods are close to urban areas many are popular for walks: the trust is hoping to draw in local volunteers prepared to form community woodland groups to mend paths, clear litter and do some coppicing or fencing. The trust was originally founded to protect small woods, spinneys and copses but has since grown into Britain's largest national charity working to conserve woods. It has acquired 511 woods in 59 counties, covering 17,000 acres, and has created 800 acres of new woodland. There are over 150,000 active supporters of the Woodland Trust. For further information, contact: The Woodland Trust, Autumn Park, Dysart Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire NG31 6LL, telephone 0476 74297.

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