Grant helps trust save an ancient woodland

A LOTTERY grant will help the Green Light Trust save a piece of ancient woodland.

The £405,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant will help the trust buy Frithy Wood at the Lavenham end of Lawshall, about half a mile from its offices.

The move is also a new step for the charity which has created 58 new community woodlands in East Anglia since 1989. Its volunteers will bring the wood back to peak condition by reintroducing coppicing, an ancient form of woodland management in which trees are cut on a 10 to 15 year rotation and the wood used for things like fencing and charcoal.

Coppicing, which is done in winter, also increases its wildlife value and allows a wider variety of plants to grow, but it also adds an extra value to a charity which works with young people, teaching outdoor working skills.

Chief executive Mark Pritchard said: “With new woodland there’s a seasonal aspect to when you can work in the wood. Working with young people we need a year-round facility.”

Coppicing also provides the raw materials for other woodland skills.

Mr Pritchard said Frithy Wood was ancient native woodland and records showed it had been wooded since at least 1600. It was a site of special scientific interest but had not been coppiced for about 50 years and was classed as being in an ‘unfavourable condition’.

“The challenge is to manage it in a way that guarantees the future of the woodland,” he said. “The wood will be open to the public for people to come in an enjoy and we need to explain to people why the wood needs management.”

Part of the project will be a 1km trail with ‘innovative interpretation’ so people can learn the historic role of woodlands, the flora and fauna and the importance of managing our natural heritage.

Robyn Llewellyn, head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “Frithy Wood is a wonderful example of Suffolk’s important natural heritage, and thanks to the Green Light Trust people from across the community will have the chance to learn new skills, discover new passions and play their part as custodians of our wonderful natural heritage.”