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Lottery grant to conserve rare woodland

Wednesday 24 October 2012

The Chilterns Conservation Board has received £79,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to conserve the rare box woodlands of the Chilterns and promote their fascinating history.

Box is the evergreen tree often seen in gardens and hedges. It used to grow wild across much of southern England but now the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is one of only a few places where you can still find natural box woodlands. One of the most important sites is at Ellesborough and Kimble Warrens on the Chequers Estate near Wendover.

Ellesborough Warren

There are remnants of box woods near Stokenchurch in Bucks and Tring in Hertfordshire. Some local place names in the Chilterns like Boxmoor near Hemel Hempstead suggest that box used to grow there.

Box woodlands are important not just because they are now rare but because of the many ways people have used box wood over the centuries. It is a very hard, dense wood and was used in furniture-making and also to make woodwind instruments like clarinets and flutes.

The Board's new Lottery-funded project will identify all the areas of box woodland that exist in the Chilterns and will work closely with landowners and organisations like the Forestry Commission, National Trust and Wildlife Trusts to manage and restore them. A large number of volunteers will also be recruited, with help from The Chiltern Society, to carry out surveys of box woodland and research their history and how their wood has been used over the centuries.

"Often overlooked, with much forgotten history, the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund will mean that our box woodland will now get the national recognition it deserves," said Neil Jackson from the Chilterns Conservation Board. "It's a great opportunity for anyone who enjoys getting out into the Chilterns countryside and wants to help uncover an intriguing slice of local history. Get in touch if you want to get involved!"

Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, said:

"Rare woodland will be afforded greater protection thanks to this project’s goal of increasing ecological knowledge and management skills. A wider appreciation will also be gained of the cultural importance of this species and its traditional uses over the centuries."

A new promoted walking route will be developed that will pass through Ellesborough and Kimble Warrens and there will be a programme of guided walks, talks and workshops on box woodland beginning in summer 2013. Music and nature will be brought together at baroque music recitals in the woodlands.

If you would like to know more or get involved contact Neil Jackson at the Board on 01844 355523 or email njackson@chilternsaonb.org


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