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  • Writer's pictureWildlife Friendly Otley

New appeal launched as purchase of local wood for community nears completion

Updated: Aug 21, 2023


The Friends of Weston Woods have announced a new appeal to raise funds for the wood now that the legal formalities for the purchase are almost complete and the exchange of contracts is expected soon.

A spokesperson for the group, which is a consortium of local wildlife and environmental groups as well as donors to the initial appeal, said: “Now that the legal proceedings to finalise the purchase are almost complete, we need to raise further funds to repay the generous loan of £65,000 which helped us to mount the successful bid earlier this year. We are appealing to everyone who appreciates wildlife and supports our aims of holding a wood for the local community to make a donation to the new crowdfunding campaign. Those keen to support the appeal can also help by sponsoring a 3x3m square for £25.”

Details of how to donate to the campaign or sponsor a square can be found at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/westonwoodspurchase

Weston Woods, near Otley and Weston (also known as East Wood) is nearly 20 acres of mature mixed deciduous woodland, alive with wildlife including red kites, warblers, woodpeckers and owls. The wood is also loved also for its carpet of bluebells and wild garlic, in the spring.

The spokesperson added: “We are very grateful to over1500 people and organisations, including Otley Town Council, who have supported the acquisition by donating over £165,000 so far. From the comments left on the fundraising site it is clear that this area of woodland is beloved by a large number of people; some children have even donated their pocket money. It is valued for the memories of playing there as children, the peace people find there, and also as a place where nature thrives.”

“There is a growing understanding that mature woodlands like these are not only vital for the wonderful habitats they provide, but also for the important part they play in holding and soaking up carbon, mitigating the release of carbon dioxide which adds to global warming.”

The wood is being purchased for the Friends of Weston Woods which is a collaboration with a number of local environmental and community groups including Otley 2030, Wildlife Friendly Otley, Menston Area Nature Trust (MANT), Wharfedale Naturalists, Addingham Environment Group, Climate Action Ilkley, Climate Action Menston, Protect Earth, Yorkshire Rewilding Network & Woodland Savers. MANT, a registered charity, will be the legal purchaser on behalf of the groups and the community.

Acquisition of this site was made possible by a philanthropic loan from Julia Davies, through her Funding Nature Project. The Friends group now needs to raise more money in order to repay this loan.

Julia Davies is an environmental campaigner, philanthropist and ‘green innovation’ investor who uses her personal funds to enable charitable projects (including land acquisitions for nature restoration) to progress. The Friends cannot progress work on the site until the loan is repaid. Equally Julia can’t support other projects until her commitment to this project is substantially reduced.

The Friends also thanked donors for their patience and said they look forward to soon being able to confirm to the community that the woods are now safe and protected for our wildlife and for the enjoyment of current and future generations..



Photo: Andrew McKeon, Francesca Bridgewater, Jenny Watson, Julia Davies (We Have The Power) and River Six.


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