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We would like to thank all those who have given support to this project from the local community, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission, the Freshwater Habitats Trust, Alvecote and Shuttington Parish Council, Maurice Arnold (sadly now passed away), and all the contractors and friends, family and volunteers who have worked on the site and given us advice and support.

We are developing Alvecote Wood according to our Woodland Management Plan that has been agreed with and grant-aided by the Forestry Commission under the English Woodland Grant Scheme.

Are you another woodland owner needing advice? Would you like to read our Tree Safety Policy?

Why Buy a Wood?

Alvecote Wood in Winter

Why did we buy Alvecote Wood? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...

Stephen, who has lived in the Tamworth area for many years, was always drawn to this little piece of woodland on Robey's Lane. On our regular cycling route, we always wondered who owned it, and why it seemed to be so neglected. About 10 years ago, it came up for sale, but Stephen didn't notice until too late, so we had to wait until 2007. Stephen spotted the For Sale sign in the ditch and thought we had missed it again, but this time we were in luck. When we visited the site, we were intrigued to find it was much larger than it appeared from the road and disappointed to see it had been so badly neglected, but it was obviously a beautiful and valuable piece of woodland and we were determined to buy it.

In 2006, Sarah had to take ill health retirement. She has cystic fibrosis and could no longer continue her work as a Senior Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Birmingham. She could have invested her pension lump sum in a bank, but while we were deciding what to do with it, Alvecote Wood came up for sale. We both love the countryside, and are enthusiastic supporters of wildlife conservation and have been all our lives. So we made a life-changing decision to invest instead in a project dear to our hearts, and something that has given us a great deal of pleasure as well as a great deal of frustration!

Owning a piece of rural land is not as idyllic or easy as it sounds. There were many challenges to face. Access to the land was poor, with a dangerous steep entrance on a blind bend on a rural roadway frequently used as a race track by local lads. All the fences were in a poor state of repair and it was obvious that people were trespassing regularly on the land, as well as poaching wildlife. Huge areas of the wood could not even be accessed at all thanks to 20 years of bramble overgrowth that was completely strangling young oak saplings trying to regenerate. Parts of the site were waterlogged and some mature oak trees were dying as a result. An existing pond was mostly silted-up reducing its value as a wildlife habitat. All over the site were generations of barbed wire fences that made getting from one place to another even more awkward.

The site is subject to a Tree Preservation Order, which means all significant work involving mature oak trees or potentially affecting them is subject to planning permission - we can't even prune branches for safety without obtaining a TPO Works planning grant.

Things also cost money - new saplings, compulsory surveys, hire of equipment and machinery, materials for new fencing and hedging, hire of diggers and drivers, dealing with fly-tipping waste and damage by unwanted intruders ...the list sometimes seems endless!

In addition, there seems to be a lot of crime affecting the site: as well as poaching and trespassing, we have had new hedging trees stolen, and our building has been broken into on one occasion causing a lot of damage, and a second attempt has been made to break in that was unsuccessful but that still caused further damage. So we have had to spend time, money and effort on crime reduction when we would rather have been helping to improve the site.

Nevertheless, it is definitely worth it. Be it a crisp winter day, a calm summer evening or a glorious spring morning, sitting on a log eating our sandwiches and listening to the birds singing is a magical experience. Butterflies in great numbers fly along the brambles and woodland edge. Glimpses of mammals including moles, rabbits, muntjac deer, badgers, foxes, stoats and all manner of little mice and voles can be had. Woodpeckers are heard drumming away on the trees. Blue tits are busily flying in and out of the many nest boxes we have placed around the site. The bluebells form beautiful carpets under the trees. The water bubbles through the new ponds. The daffodils line the new access road. Bats swoop low for insects at dusk. There is so much pure pleasure that it makes everything worthwhile.

And it gives us such pleasure to be doing something useful, for the local area, and the local community, and also the planet and wildlife. It is definitely worth the frustration and the hard labour.