Environment Agency enables Woodland Trust to bolster fragile habitat

Last updated: 7th March 2022

Responding to global calls for urgent action to tackle the climate and nature crises facing the UK, the Environment Agency is to help the Woodland Trust restore and plant a 47 hectare site on the edge of Bromsgrove.

Responding to global calls for urgent action to tackle the climate and nature crises facing the UK, the Environment Agency is to help the Woodland Trust restore and plant a 47 hectare site on the edge of Bromsgrove.

As the UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change last week* renewed the messages from COP 26 for urgent action to restore dwindling habitats, the Environment Agency for the Midlands has granted £800,000 to create woodland and wood pasture to buffer a fragmented ancient wood recognised as a SSSI.

A public appeal helped secure the purchase of land next door to the Woodland Trust’s ancient Pepper Wood, at Fairfield, which is ripe for woodland creation.

The five year project will deliver multiple benefits , says the Woodland Trust’s chief executive Dr Darren Moorcroft:

“Pepper Wood is a honey pot of species, many of which are threatened. It is one of the remaining fragmented pockets of ancient woodland that now make up less than 2.5% of the UK. Through planting and natural regeneration, we’ll enable the species it hosts to colonise the new site, increasing this woodland population’s resilience to the effects of climate change.

“These opportunities are seldom found so we’re hugely grateful to the swift action of the Environment Agency in the West Midlands to help enable us to grasp it and make it happen. As we continue to hear from the world’s leading scientists, action on the ground is needed urgently. This is a fantastic example of working together to enable tangible change, and quickly.”

To meet climate targets of net zero carbon by 2050, the Government has identified it needs to increase tree cover from 13% to 17%. This is intrinsic to deliver on restoring and bolstering habitats to help them stand up the effects of climate change. In the charity’s 2021 State of Woods and Trees report, it was revealed that wildlife is in steep decline and only 7% of woodlands are in good ecological condition**.

Dr Moorcroft continued: “Despite huge interest in trees and woods, planting statistics show we are a long way from where we need to be. It is vital we make far greater strides and dramatically pick up the pace. We need momentum and projects like this that will help address the nature decline we’re witnessing in the UK.”

In addition to restoring fragile habitat to bolster biodiversity , the new woodland will also absorb – over the 100 year lifetime of the project – up to an estimated 13t of carbon dioxide (CO2e).

Matthew Lawrence, Environment Programme Manager at the Environment Agency said:

“We are delighted to work with the Woodland Trust by providing funding for the creation of additional woodland and wood pasture next to Pepper Wood in Fairfield in Worcestershire. The woodland will have a positive long-term effect on the area’s biodiversity and contribute to the climate emergency response.

“Woodlands have huge benefits as they play a critical role in tackling the climate crisis and biodiversity loss as they help to capture carbon, improve air quality and create places for wildlife to flourish.  They also have flood risk benefits as they help to slow the flow of water off the land and water quality benefits by increasing biodiversity.”

As well as delivering for nature, the site will have full public access in line with all of the Woodland Trust’s 1,200 UK sites which are open free 365 days of the year. An additional 5km of footpaths will weave though the site.

With the clock ticking to make meaningful change for nature, both parties will waste no time in beginning the transformation. In addition to natural regeneration and seeding, the local community will be invited to help plant the first trees at the site later this year.



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