Ten years on and wood is floruishing

A DECADE ago, it was a barren site, grubby former allotment land, stretching away to fields beyond.Today - just ten years on - it is a thriving and impressive woodland, filled with hundreds of trees and loved by dog walkers.

A DECADE ago, it was a barren site, grubby former allotment land, stretching away to fields beyond.

Today - just ten years on - it is a thriving and impressive woodland, filled with hundreds of trees and loved by dog walkers.

It has grown up almost imperceptibly, people passing it every day but hardly noticing this lovely new green edge to Felixstowe - the first major tree-planting on the peninsula for nearly 200 years - as it has flourished, attracting wildlife and birds in abundance.

“It is amazing to think how this landscape has changed in just ten years,” said volunteer warden Bob Stoner.

“Thousands of us pass in our cars every day and because you see the wood so regularly you don't notice it growing.

“When we first started our work parties, people could come in and see us straight away - for the last three or four years they have been getting lost and cannot find us among the growing trees and we have to put signs up! That's how much it has changed.

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“It is amazing how you can transform a piece of bare ground into woodland in just ten years - you would think it would take hundreds.

“We are very pleased - it has been a real triumph.”

Nine-acre Abbey Grove, off Grove Road, was started in 1998 when the first tender young saplings were planted by the Woodland Trust after a £34,000 fundraising drive.

On December 6 it will be the tenth anniversary and there will be a celebration from 10am to noon when mince pies and mulled wine will be served and people are invited to go along and mark the occasion, take a walk through the wood and see a display of the work of the last decade.

There will also be a chance to help plant a new hedgerow if people bring a spade and wear suitable boots and gloves.

Mr Stoner said more and more people were discovering the wood walking through on their walk at the ancient Grove next door.

“I would say about 90 per cent of the people are dog walkers but we do have other people coming, too, now,” he said.

A volunteer party of around a dozen hardy helpers work at the site every Tuesday morning, cutting back brambles to protect younger trees, coppicing to keep a control on growth, looking after pathways and the wildflower meadow.

Trees include oak, ash, sweet chestnut, field maple, hazel, wild cherry, hawthorn, and blackthorn.

Surveys are currently taking place into the birdlife and mammals. Bank voles, shrews, weasels, wood and harvest mice are seen regularly, and it is hoped to set up a bat roost in an old pillbox.

Has Abbey Grove made a difference to Felixstowe's landscape? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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