Save Becky Addy Ancient Woodland

by FRIENDS OF BECKY ADDY WOOD in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Save Becky Addy Ancient Woodland

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£25,000 stretch target 23 days left
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Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 13th June 2024 at 1:58pm

Conservation group Friends of Becky Addy Wood (FROBAW) aims to stop Bradford on Avon council from wrecking a nearby ancient woodland.

by FRIENDS OF BECKY ADDY WOOD in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

FROBAW aims to:

- secure permanent protection of Becky Addy Ancient Woodland.
- buy the wood back from the council in order to manage it sensitively with objective and proportionate risk assessment.
- share our findings on tree risk assessment with other conservation groups to aid the protection of ancient trees and woodlands nationwide.


1699019793_capture.jpgConservation group Friends of Becky Addy Wood (FROBAW) aims to stop Bradford on Avon council from wrecking a nearby ancient woodland. The council has already needlessly felled and monolithed around 40 trees in this beautiful wood - home to endangered species, including red- and amber-listed birds, protected Bechstein's bats at risk of extinction and rare flora. The works have already altered conditions so radically that brambles and nettles have taken over areas where rare flowers once grew.

This test case could set a vital precedent and give real protection to ancient woodland across the country, including trees temporarily affected by ash dieback. The broader context is the unchecked destruction of hundreds of thousands of otherwise healthy trees in the UK (c.f. the notorious Sheffield city council case).

FROBAW was forced to seek and obtain a temporary a High Court injunction in February 2023. FROBAW wants permanent protection for the wood. A High Court judge has said there is “a substantial public interest in this case”.

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The council only became the owner of the wood thanks to the extraordinary generosity of FROBAW’s members. In 2020, they donated £30,000 (67% of the funds needed) to enable the council to make the purchase. The condition was that the council and FROBAW would manage the wood - and any ash dieback cases - jointly (Memorandum of Understanding) and that the wood would be preserved.

FROBAW allege that the council has repeatedly flouted the agreement, persistently sidelined FROBAW and made woodland management decisions in secret.

Ash dieback and visitor numbers. The council grossly exaggerates the actual risk posed by ash dieback and the actual number of people visiting the wood.

The council’s felling plans are based on an exaggerated perceived risk, not corroborated by science, of ash dieback, and on its grossly inaccurate estimate of the actual number of pedestrians using the public footpath, which they claim to be between 192 and 1,728 every day.

FROBAW carried out an actual footfall count over a 3-week period in the summer of last year. The average number of visitors was, in fact, 46 per day.

The risk of harm to the public is therefore extremely low.

Background

Ancient woodland and protected status. As ancient woodland, the wood is precious wildlife habitat. A Woodland Tree Preservation Order legally protects each tree in the wood. The wood is: an “Area of High Ecological Value”; a “County Wildlife Site”; designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; in the impact zone of a Bat Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Flawed data. The council used a demonstrably flawed survey, done in the autumn of 2021 when trees had lost much of their foliage, to justify its actions. In May 2022, the council's second surveyor identified 50 serious errors in the autumn survey including: the misidentification of multiple tree species; living trees wrongly labelled as dead. The felling ignored the advice of the UK government, the Woodland Trust, UK Wildlife Trusts and the Tree Council, which all advise summer surveys.

FROBAW commissioned a woodland survey by a leading tree consultant. Using VALID, an objective risk assessment method, he found the trees pose an acceptable risk due to the very low footfall. As vital wildlife habitat, he stressed that the trees should be preserved.

The science. Research in mainland Europe, which has longer experience of ash dieback, demonstrates that many mature trees recover. All the condemned trees in Becky Addy Wood are either mature or veteran trees, with some veteran coppices up to 400 years old. Such trees are vital in the fight against climate change. Their carbon capture is more than double what had been estimated. 

The council has rejected the scientific evidence and has been extraordinarily belligerent - continuing to fell trees right until the moment the injunction was served.

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We urgently need funds for our legal campaign to preserve this irreplaceable ancient woodland in perpetuity. Please DONATE and help set a precedent for the protection of trees and ancient woodlands nationwide. Thank you so much for your support.

Becky Addy Wood in brief:

  • Mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
  • A designated ancient and semi-natural woodland.
  • An Area of High Ecological Value.
  • A designated County Wildlife Site.
  • Within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  •  A Woodland Tree Preservation Order on every tree.
  • Home to red- and amber-listed birds e.g. the Marsh Tit, Tawny Owl, Stock Dove and Song Thrush.
  • In the impact zone of a Special Area of Conservation for rare and endangered bats, including Bechstein’s bat, at risk of extinction.
  • Home to rare woodland flora including Spiked Star of Bethlehem, White Helleborine and Herb Paris.

 

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