Weston Woods: Crowdfunder launched as sale of Otley community woodland comes together

A community group which banded together to buy its own much-loved woodland has launched an appeal to sponsor squares of nature as the sale comes together.
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Weston Woods, a 20 acre site of mature deciduous woodland near Otley, was put up for sale earlier this year with suggestions it could make a productive timber plantation.

Local groups, determined to save it, raised tens of thousands to put in their own successful bids, with the backing of a philanthropic loan from environmental campaigner Julia Davies, through her Funding Nature Project.

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Now the Friends of Weston Woods has announced a new appeal to raise funds to repay the loan of £65,000, seeking donations or sponsorship for 3x3m squares of woodland.

Friends of Weston Woods with benefactor Julia DaviesFriends of Weston Woods with benefactor Julia Davies
Friends of Weston Woods with benefactor Julia Davies

More than 1,500 people and organisations, including Otley Town Council, have already supported the project so far by donating over £165,000. Details of how to donate to the campaign or sponsor a square can be found at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/westonwoodspurchase.

The Friends groups is made up of wildlife and environmental groups as well as donors to the initial appeal. A spokesman 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."

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Weston Woods, also known as East Wood, is known for its springtime carpet of bluebells and wild garlic, and is alive with wildlife such as red kites, warblers, woodpeckers and owls.

Weston Woods in springtimeWeston Woods in springtime
Weston Woods in springtime

The spokesperson added: “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.”

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