Friday 28th October 2016

Box Wood (c) Steve HemmingsBox Wood (c) Steve Hemmings

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is planning to take on the lease of Box Wood, an ancient woodland near Minchinhampton, following a successful appeal to buy the wood by the local community.

The proposed new management arrangement will be celebrated by the Trust and local residents on Friday 4th November, in a ceremony attended by Neil Carmichael, MP for Stroud Valleys and Vale, as well as Roger Mortlock, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and representatives from Box Community Wood, Box Village Society and The Novalis Trust who are selling the woodland to the community.

Steve Hemmings, Chairman of Box Community Wood said:
“The purchase of Box Wood has been an aspiration of the local community for over 40 years, and is a wonderful demonstration of what can be achieved when all the parties and the community pull together. This was the third and almost certainly the final opportunity for Box Wood to be purchased and preserved in its entirety for the benefit of wildlife and the local population. The project’s success has been the result of lots of hours of work by Box Village Society, but also very much depended upon the help and cooperation of the vendors - The Novalis Trust; the immediate offer of cooperation by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust; flexibility and support from Minchinhampton Parish and Stroud District Councils but, even more than those, the positively staggering generosity and encouragement particularly from the residents of Box but also many from Amberley, Minchinhampton and the wider community.”

This is a great example of how Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust can work together with local people to protect our beautiful county

The new arrangement for the ancient woodland site follows lengthy discussions between current owners Novalis Trust and Box residents about how best to ensure the continued protection of the woodland for the local community. The collaborative project resulted in the establishment of a new charity, Box Community Wood, which has raised in excess of £100,000 to buy the site. Box residents asked for help from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to help them manage the site.

Roger Mortlock, Chief Executive of GWT said: “This is a great example of how Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust can work together with local people to protect our beautiful county. It is our privilege to help ensure that Box Wood remains rich in wildlife and a place of enjoyment for generations to come.”

Neil Carmichael, MP for Stroud Valleys and Vale, and Chairmain of the Education Select Committee will attend the meeting and had this to say on the proposed working relationship:

“As a committed defender of all good things in our environment, I am delighted to hear Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Box Residents have secured the future of Box Wood. When local communities get together with a clear and worthy project such as this, I am always encouraged by the example they show to others and the contribution they make to all of us.”

The Trust will lease the site from residents; carrying out practical tasks and taking on management costs. Grundon Waste Management, long-standing supporters of the Trust and their conservation efforts, have agreed to support the maintenance of the site by way of donation via the Landfill Communities Fund.

Andrew Short, estates manager at Grundon, said: ‘We are delighted that a local community, which worked so hard to raise funds to buy precious local woodland, then chooses wildlife experts to manage and maintain it for the wider population. This is community power at its best and we’re delighted to support it.’

Jake Lukas, CEO of Novalis Trust, said: “We are thrilled that this joint project is finally coming to fruition. We look forward to continuing to work alongside GWT and the other trustees of the newly established charity to ensure that the wood continues to be protected for future generations.”