Woodland Trust

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Woodland Trust
Formation 1972
Legal status Non-profit company and registered charity
Purpose Woodland in the UK
Region served
Woodland enthusiasts and conservationists
Chief Executive
Beccy Speight (as of 2014)
Main organ
Board of Trustees
Website www.woodlandtrust.org.uk

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the United Kingdom concerned with the creation, protection, and restoration of native woodland heritage. It has over 500,000 supporters and has planted over 30 million trees, including with over 5 million children.

The Trust has three key aims: i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

The Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.


The charity was founded in Devon, England in 1972 by retired farmer and agricultural machinery dealer Kenneth Watkins.[1] By 1977 it had twenty two woods in six counties. In 1978 it relocated to Grantham in Lincolnshire and announced an expansion of its activities across the UK. It has supported the National Tree Week scheme, which takes place in late November and is run by The Tree Council.

From 2005 to 2008 it co-operated with the BBC for their Springwatch programme and the BBC's Breathing Places[2] series of events held at woods. It continues to work with Springwatch and Autumnwatch most recently in 2015 as part of the Big Spring Watch, which encouraged viewers to record the signs of nature ( Phenology) through the Trust's Nature's Calendar project.


  • It acquired Balmacaan Wood next to Loch Ness in 1984. It now has over 80 woods in Scotland, covering 21,000 acres (8,500 ha).
  • In Wales, it acquired the 94 acres (38 ha) Coed Lletywalter in Snowdonia National Park in 1980. It now has over 100 woods in Wales.
  • It started in Northern Ireland in 1996 when it received a grant from the Millennium Commission to set up over 50 community woods. The scheme was called Woods on Your Doorstep.


Its first employee and Director, John James, came from Lincolnshire and was living in Nottingham at the time. It had a small office on Westgate. John James was Chief Executive from 1992–97, and then Michael Townsend from 1997-2004. Sue Holden from 2004-2014. The current CEO is Beccy Speight.

A new eco-friendly headquarters, adjacent to the former HQ, was completed in 2010 at a cost of GB£5.1million.[3] The new headquarters have been designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios as Architect and Atelier One as Structural Engineer,[4] and incorporates light shelves to distribute natural daylight around the 200 workstations, and concrete panels to absorb daytime heat, to provide the thermal mass that the lightweight wooden structure would otherwise lack.[5] It is estimated that compared to a concrete framed construction, the timber structure saved the equivalent in carbon production as nine years of the building's operation.[3]


It is now based at Kempton Way on Dysart Road in Grantham in South Kesteven, south Lincolnshire, moving there in 2010. It employs around 300 people at its Grantham headquarters. From 2014 its Chief Executive is Beccy Speight. Its current president is Clive Anderson since 2003. In 2016 Barbara Young, Baroness Young of Old Scone became the charity's Chair.


The Woodland Trust receives funding from a wide range of sources including membership, legacies, donations and appeals, corporate supporters, grants and charitable trusts including lottery funding, other organisations and landfill tax.


The Woodland Trust uses its experience and authority in conservation to influence others who are in a position to improve the future of native woodland. This includes government, other landowners, and like-minded organisations. It also campaigns to protect and save ancient woodland from destructive development. Its projects also include the Nature Detectives youth programme, a project for schools learning about the seasonal effect on woodlands - phenology - and the Ancient Tree Hunt campaign.

It publishes books.

Woodland protection[edit]

It looks after more than 1,100 woods [6] and groups of woods covering 190 square kilometres (73 sq mi). Nearly 350 of its sites contain ancient woodland of which 70 per cent is semi-natural ancient woodland – land which has been under tree cover since at least 1600. It also manages over 110 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. There are currently over 600 ancient woods under threat across the UK.

Woodland creation[edit]

It has also created new woodlands: over 32 km2 (12 sq mi) have been created, including 250 new community woods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its largest current projects include the 41.7 km2 (16.1 sq mi) Glen Finglas Estate in the Trossachs, Scotland and the Heartwood Forest near St Albans, Hertfordshire, England, which will cover approximately 347 ha (860 acres). It owns 20 sites covering 4.3 km2 (1.7 sq mi) in the National Forest and has twelve sites in Community Forests in England.

Millennium woods[edit]

The Woodland Trust's "Woods on your doorstep" project created 250 "Millennium woods" to celebrate the millennium 2000/2001.[7]

Jubilee woods[edit]

Oxmoor Copse in Surrey

The Trust ran the Jubilee Woods project, which aimed to plant 6 million trees and create 60 commemorative 'Diamond' woods across the UK as part of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.[8] The largest of these, owned and managed by the Trust itself, is the Flagship Diamond Wood in Leicestershire. Situated within the National Forest this will be planted with 300,000 trees.[9]

Ancient Tree Hunt[edit]

The Ancient Tree Hunt is a campaign by the Woodland Trust that seeks to catalogue all veteran trees in the United Kingdom. To date over 50,000 trees have been recorded; by 2011 it is projected to have grown to at least 100,000. It is hoped that it will allow a better understanding of the number and spread of ancient trees in the UK.[10] It was started in 2004 by The Tree Register of the British Isles and the Ancient Tree Forum.[10] The trees catalogued by the project are recorded in a database maintained by the Woodland Trust. All entries (both verified and unverified) may be viewed on the campaign's website. All recorded trees may be viewed on an interactive map, or refined listings (of only verified trees) may be generated through a form generated search of the database.

FWW Centenary Woods project[edit]

The Trust launched its Centenary Woods project which in commemoration of the First World War, planting millions of trees across the UK and transforming four very special sites into four beautiful new woods. By 2018 each country in the UK will have its own Centenary Wood; thousands of hectares of trees, fields and flowers there for anyone to visit, free of charge, for generations to come.

For Club and Country[edit]

As part of it's Centenary Woods project the Trust has teamed up the National Football Museum to create team groves to commemorate all the professional football players involved in the First World War, giving supporters the chance to dedicate trees in team groves at the English Centenary Wood, Langley Vale in Epsom.

Nature's Calendar[edit]

The project encourages members of the public to record the signs of the seasons near to them, from seeing the first ladybird in spring to the first fly agaric toadstool in autumn.

There are thousands of volunteers who send in their sightings, providing crucial evidence about how wildlife is responding to our changing climate, the valuable data is used by conservationists, scientists and Government. This is called phenology - it's the study of natural events in relation to weather and climate.

The Trust's records date back to 1736, making it the longest written biological record of its kind. It has become a powerful tool in assessing the impact of climate change and is highly valued by research scientists.


Woodland near South Ockendon in Essex
Lineover Wood SSSI in Gloucestershire Cotswolds

Woods it owns and looks after include:



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kenneth Watkins - Obituary". The Times. 22 November 1996. p. 25. Retrieved 26 August 2014.  – via NewsBank (subscription may be required or content may be available in libraries)
  2. ^ "Breathing Places". BBC. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Rattenbury, Kester (28 October 2010). "Woodland Trust HQ, Grantham, by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios | Building study". Architects Journal. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Solutions Sustainability: Newsletter" (PDF). Klhuk.com. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Woodland Trust HQ | Engineering Projects". Max Fordham. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ Powell Ettinger (13 September 2010). "Wildlife Extra News - Ten years on and 250 Millennium woods transform Britain's landscape". Wildlifeextra.com. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "Celebrate Queen Elizabeth's historic Diamond Jubilee during 2012 with the Woodland Trust". Woodlandtrust.org.uk. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  9. ^ [2][dead link]
  10. ^ a b The Woodland Trust. "What is the Ancient Tree Hunt?". Ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "Dick Buck's Burrows woodland" (PDF). The Woodland trust. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "Garratts Wood - a Woodland Trust Wood". Woodland Trust. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "Great Wood – Felbrigg Estate". Details of Great Wood – Felbrigg. The Woodland Trust. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  14. ^ "Natural England - SSSIs : SSSI information". Sssi.naturalengland.org.uk. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "Pretty Corner Wood" (PDF). Information Leaflet about the woodland. Woodland Trust – North Norfolk Council. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  16. ^ "Warren Wood – Cromer". Details of Warren Wood near Cromer, Norfolk. The Woodland Trust. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "Weybourne Wood". Details of Weybourne Wood near Weybourne Norfolk. The Woodland Trust. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "West Runton Wood". Details of West Runton Wood. The Woodland Trust. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 

External links[edit]