Hazeland – Our First Purchase

Our First Purchase: Hazeland

In August 2020 we finally completed the purchase of Hazeland, a beautiful 34 acres in the Marden Valley between Chippenham and Calne. Both of these towns have been hit by floods in recent years and planting in the high catchment area helps protect all the other towns and cities downstream, including Melksham, Bradford-on-Avon, Bath and Bristol. This made Hazeland a perfect first purchase.

Within Hazeland there exist approximately 10 acres of ancient woodland which needs protection. We are likely to lose all the Ash trees which make up a significant percentage of the wood in the next few years, due to Ash Die Back. There are also two enormous pastures in which we plan to plant trees while allowing space for glades and biodiversity improvement. A third field will be left to rewild naturally.

We’ve commissioned several ecological surveys which indicate that Hazeland is the site for several rare and endangered species. There are also a number of recently recorded, near UK-extinct species that we hope to attract back to the land, including nightingales and some species of woodland butterflies. We want to enhance the current ‘habitat mosaic’ which is a mixture of scrubland, grassland, woodland and wet woodland.

We are working with the Woodland Trust on the actual planting and long-term management of the land. We are extremely grateful to the Woodland Trust for all their expertise and generous support.

The Latest News On Hazeland

In April 2020, after nine months of hard fundraising, including a transformative contribution from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a very generous £30,000 from Natracare, we were finally able to instruct our solicitors to begin the purchase. Completion of the purchase was unfortunately delayed because of Coronavirus and tough negotiations with the vendor, but finally concluded around four months later.

Fortunately the vendor kindly allowed us to go ahead with spring species surveys during the negotiations so that we were able to build up an accurate baseline for this year. Biodiversity surveys are planned for future years, including some which will be done by university students. The aim is that, together, all our monitoring will create a rich multi-decade study of local wildlife and the impact of our tree planting and wilding.

We have also been busy planning how we will manage the ancient woodland and the grassland and we are now in the process of preparing the fields for planting in November 2020.

We have also been planning how we will welcome our supporters, funders and the general public onto the land. We hope for lots of participation in our volunteer conservation days, our tree planting and our species monitoring. We will be putting together a range of events to engage all ages and interests.

Although we have hit our target to buy and manage the land, there are still essentials such as fruit-bearing trees, compost loos and benches for which we still need to fundraise.

Please head over to our donate page to read more about what makes this land so special, and to donate. Thank you for all of your support and for sharing our page.

Thank you so much for your support!

The truth is we couldn’t have done this without hundreds of you giving your support. Together, public and small company donations have contributed almost £80,000 so far – and without this, we would never have got the larger funding. So, huge thanks to everyone who had faith in us as a new start-up charity – you’ve helped create one wonderful, positive project. We hope you will stay with us for the journey, helping Hazeland develop and supporting us with buying other land and making a significant impact on our catchment area. Many, many thanks!