Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) have recently exceeded their fundraising target of £104,000 to buy Astonbury Wood on the outskirts of Stevenage. They are keeping their appeal open until the end of July and will use any excess over the original target amount to care for the wood and other nature reserves in Hertfordshire and Middlesex. As of 28th July, in excess of £132,500 has been raised.
Hertfordshire County Council is in discussion with HMWT over the sale which they hope will be concluded by the end of the year. The site is being sold on a long leasehold basis to control future use. The woodland is to be used as a nature reserve in accordance with the tenant's strategic objectives and the Management Plan.
Cllr Tony Stowe (Datchworth & Aston ward, EHDC) said:
It is great news that the Herts & Middlesex Trust have agreed in principle to acquire the Woodland. Thanks to the many supporters, the fundraising campaign is well on the way to raise the money needed to purchase the wood, carry out immediate remedial work and to maintain it for years to come. This will preserve the important woodland, wildlife and continued public access.
Cllr Adam Mitchell CC (Longmeadow ward, SBC and Broadwater Division, HCC) said:
As the County Councillor for Broadwater, which borders Astonbury Wood, I have benefited from access to this wonderful woodland which has been positive to both the mental and physical wellbeing of so many people in the last 18 months of lockdowns and restrictions.
I would like to thank residents who have done a fantastic job of promoting the importance of protecting access to our woodland.
Hertfordshire County Council has listened to residents. The agreement with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is a victory for local people. Firstly, the woodland will be protected against development, which was a major concern for residents. Secondly, public access will be maintained, allowing people to enjoy this woodland for years to come.