by Otley 2030 in Otley, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

We did it
On 14th March 2023 we successfully raised £144,128 ( + est. £29013.00 Gift Aid ) with 1567 supporters in 36 days

To buy East Wood, a 20-acre mature woodland in Yorkshire, for the long-term benefit of the community, wildlife and the climate

by Otley 2030 in Otley, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

Yay; our offer has been accepted, so East Wood Community Woodland can become a reality! BUT WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP, TO PAY FOR IT, PLEASE:

Thank you for all your amazing support thus far. With the backing of over 1,400 people and organisations, accompanied by many wonderful local stories from the woods, Friends of East Wood had the confidence that we were doing the right thing by bidding for 'Weston Woods' for the community and for nature recovery. However, with many other interested parties and with land (especially woodland) often going for far more than the guide price, we had to put in a generous bid. Fortunately, through Menston Area Nature Trust (registered charity number 1195510), we were able to do this on the back of a generous offer of a philanthropic loan from Julia Davies of We Have The POWER, and we are delighted to say that the bid has been accepted, subject to contract. However, we must now repay Julia's loan, pay VAT and legal fees etc. (see below).

Julia is an environmental campaigner, lawyer, philanthropist and ‘green innovation’ investor who uses her personal funds to enable charitable projects (including land acquisitions for nature restoration) to progress. She is kindly supporting our acquisition on the understanding that we will do all we can to reduce the loan from her needed at completion and then to pay back any loan she does provide as a priority. We can’t progress work on the site until the loan is repaid. Equally Julia can’t support the many projects which contact her weekly until her commitment to this project is substantially reduced.

SO WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP! If you can, please: give a donation, or share this campaign with others, or support us if you’re a business, or just support us to help sequester some carbon. Thank you.

What if we raise more than our target?

We plan to hold East Wood for the community and nature, in perpetuity, through these funds. In the short term, there will be some essential administrative and legal costs, managed by experienced civic sector leadership, and a portion of any excess funds raised will be used to cover these. Any surplus raised would be used for ongoing woodland management projects at East Wood which may include improving pathways, removing invasive species, repairing dry stone walls, enhancing biodiversity (e.g. through coppicing, planting etc), welcome/information signs, tree management for public safety, etc. Please note that our own time is being given for ‘nowt.



We are a collaboration of local community and nature groups, supported by national organisations who are working together to seize this rare opportunity to purchase and manage East Wood with, and for, the community, as well as for wildlife.

For more information about each supporting organisation, please check out these links:

Our willingness to collaborate, combined with our extensive expertise and experience - of developing nature recovery schemes, leading community development projects, undertaking biodiversity surveys, managing nature reserves and leading nature-based education, including Forest School - make us an ideal group to buy and manage this woodland for the long-term good of the community and nature. We are working with Woodland Savers, so we can create a woodland management plan, monitoring and reporting publicly on biodiversity, soil health, and air and water quality.



East Wood (known locally as Weston Woods) , a small (nearly 20 acres) piece of mixed deciduous woodland, with an existing public footpath running through it, which has just come up for quick sale between the village of Weston and the town of Otley, West Yorkshire. The locals walk through it but don’t have the right to roam, unlike the visiting deer, tawny owls and woodpeckers, or resident kites, rooks, goldcrests, tree creepers and warblers. Oak, birch, beech, elder and sycamore are underlain by bluebells, wild garlic, brambles and other woodland flowers. It’s already rich in biodiversity, which can be enhanced. Our hope and plan is that it becomes ‘East Wood Community Woodland.’



East Wood is a precious resource for people, wildlife, and the climate, but its future is incredibly uncertain. We want East Wood to become a community asset, improving access, putting land back into the ownership of the community, maximising the potential for birds, insects, plants, fungi -  bringing back a rich understory to make this woodland a fully functioning ecosystem, and increasing our connection with nature and encouraging its recovery.  

And it’s a truly local, national and global issue, as proven by some of our supporters:

Ian Brand, Vice-President Wharfedale Naturalists: “We all realised during ‘lockdown’ how important the countryside and natural world is for our mental and physical wellbeing. None more so when it is easily accessible and close to home. This is truly a wonderful opportunity to buy and manage a beautiful local woodland, for not just now, but for future generations. Local community ownership and control will allow us to maintain access for everyone, while managing East Wood in a way to increase its biodiversity and richness. I urge everyone to contribute in any way they can.”

Christoph Warrack of Woodland Savers, (a social enterprise helping communities to acquire, protect and regenerate woodlands): “It’s impossible to imagine the story of East Wood without its surrounding community. This historic relationship now has an opportunity to secure a flourishing future for nature, in partnership with generations of local people. This is an outstanding community movement which truly deserves the prize of stewardship of East Wood, in perpetuity and for the benefit of wildlife, people, and planet.” 

Phil Sturgeon of the Protect Earth charity: “All over the country our woodlands are in decline, encroached upon by road building, housing, swamped with invasive species, or treated purely as a portfolio investment. This is an opportunity for a community to secure a woodland they hold dear, and secure it for generations to come.”

Dom Higgins, Head of Health and Education at The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts: “One third of people in England do not have nature-friendly places near their homes. That’s nearly nine and half million households that don’t get the proven wellbeing benefits from hearing birdsong, exercising in tree-lined parks or relaxing on a flower-filled bed of grass... We owe it to people to create more natural places where people would benefit the most from them.”


The short-term goal (by 14/02/23) is to buy East Wood! We have the winning offer, pending due diligence and all the other paperwork. So we now need to continue raising funds to repay the loan and pay VAT, legal fees etc. Together we can make East Wood a community woodland managed for nature recovery, wellbeing, and learning.

The medium-term goals include baseline biodiversity surveys (through our collected organisations), risk-benefit assessments, a heritage survey and an opportunity to share your views.

The long-term goals include:

  • truly sustainable woodland management (including monitoring, measuring and reporting),
  • community involvement leading to improved connection with nature and mental wellbeing,
  • enhanced biodiversity including rare species recovery,
  • provision of cross-curricular and holistic education opportunities for the numerous local primary schools (with nearly 30% of pupils at the nearest school in receipt of Pupil Premium), secondary school and other groups,
  • more inclusive access and participation,
  • local reduction in runoff, improved soil health and improved air and water quality,
  • protected carbon sequestration,
  • heritage preservation,
  • genuine community adoption of this special place, East Wood Community Woodland.

Watch this space for more information…



We cannot buy East Wood without your support. We have been blown away by your response thus far, from over 1,400 supporters, raising £133k towards buying Weston Woods; thank you. However, we need to continue our fundraising to pay off our loan, VAT and legal fees etc.

We are a local community trying to do our bit for the global climate and biodiversity crises that affect us all. We will be promoting this locally, but the benefits will be experienced far and wide. Please donate if you can and share our campaign where you can. 


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