The nine and a half acres of land at Curry Woods has come back into Somerset County Council's hands after a long period of being tenanted. The Curry Woods Conservation Trust was formed in 2019 with the aim of buying the land and then maintaining the ancient woodland, planting more trees on the part of the land that has been intensively farmed and also using some land to grow crops to provide food for some of the many species of birds that overwinter in the area. SCC have agreed to sell the land to the Trust for £60,000 and we have so far raised over £42000 locally, with another grant for £12500 on the cards - so £3000 would see us over the line!
Why is this land special? So many reasons! For a start most of the woodland is known to be ancient, which means there has probably been woodland on this site since the 1600s. It is therefore the habitat for a wide range of plant and animal species, and forms part of a wildlife corridor of along a ridge above the Somerset Levels. Surprisingly Somerset has relatively little woodland (7%) compared to the national average of 9%) so we need to conserve what is currently present. Secondly, the land is at a high point on the ridge and in winters water runs off from it in two directions - to the Levels on one side and to the village of Curry Rivel on the other. It floods down the aptly named Water Street to the heart of the village, where it has flooded the village school on at least two occasions in the last decade. Tree roots are known to hold up the the flow of water and prevent soil erosion so planting more trees will aid water retention .
The local community has already become involved in fund raising and collecting sapling trees and we intend to hold guided walks in the autumn, led by one of the trustees who is an experienced naturalist. the community will be involved in tree planting and the maintenance of the land. There is a (disused) footpath across the field and through the woodland down to the Levels and we anticipate volunteers will help to reinstate the path and provide information boards on flora and fauna to look for while walking down the path.
Thus the planned woodland management and expansion will help to deliver the benefits of biodiversity, heritage, carbon capture and storage and water retention essential to the long term well-being of our population and our planet.