Fundraiser launched to restore ancient woodland in Sussex


Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT) is calling on the public to help raise £110,000 to expand its Ebernoe Common nature reserve near Petworth.

If the money is raised, SWT will purchase three fields adjoining the reserve. One of the fields appears to have been part of an ancient woodland called 'Forest Copse', which was felled during World War II.

Common Nightingale is one of the key species at Ebernoe Common (Ian Curran).

With bluebells still growing where the woodland once stood, SWT hopes to build on the restored hedgerows put in place by the landowner to regrow the forest in the years to come.

The other two fields would be managed as species-rich grasslands through grazing and cutting, while scrub will be allowed to form in order to provide habitat for Common Nightingales, Hazel Dormice and bats.

A spokesperson for SWT aid: "Purchasing and restoring land is a huge commitment for the Trust. The initial purchase is costly, but we also need to commit to its ongoing management to ensure this rewilding project is a success. It's also vital we carry out in-depth surveys to monitor the impact of our work.

"We know the impact projects like this can have. Twenty-three years ago, we purchased arable farmland bordering Ebernoe Common (known as Butcherlands). Now, this land has one of the densest population of nightingales in the UK with a diverse mosaic of scrubland, grassland and regenerating woodland."

SWT has said that any funds exceeding the purchase price, or the entire fundraiser if the sale does not go through, would go towards the management of other nature reserves.