Watling charity helps woodland

IAN CLARKE Essential work on the largest ancient woodland in Norfolk will be possible, thanks to a £20,000 grant from a charity set up in memory of former Norfolk entrepreneur and ex-Norwich City president Geoffrey Watling.

IAN CLARKE

Essential work on the largest ancient woodland in Norfolk will be possible, thanks to a £20,000 grant from a charity set up in memory of former Norfolk entrepreneur and ex-Norwich City president Geoffrey Watling.

The gift to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust will enable a timber crane and trailer to be bought to undertake coppicing and scrub clearance in Foxley Wood, near Dereham.

At 123 hectares, Foxley Wood, which is a site of special scientific interest, features an exceptionally wide range of trees including several which are nationally scarce. Many of the rich ground flora are relics of the ancient “wildwood” that stood on the site and require light, open rides, which also encourage several species of butterfly.

Without active management, the woodland would become dense and rides would quickly develop into scrub. This would impact on tree and ground flora diversity as well as insects and mammals.

When Mr Watling died in 2004, he bequeathed a large part of his estate to the charity set up in his name and it distributes grants to a wide range of projects across Norfolk and the Waveney district of Suffolk.

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NWT woodlands warden John Milton said: “We are very grateful for this funding from the Geoffrey Watling Charity. It will enable us to ensure the right habitats are maintained for a variety of birds, insects and plants such as early purple orchid and bluebell, which covers the woodland floor during spring in a spectacular display. These plants in turn encourage large numbers of butterflies and moths including white admiral, purple hairstreak and orange underwing.”

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