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castlecopseIn Saturday’s glorious weather, Gift to Nature and the Island 2000 Trust officially opened their new wood in the heart of East Cowes: Castle Copse. 

The acquisition of the woodland by the Island 2000 Trust has been the result of much hard work between Natural Enterprise (on behalf of the Trust), Barratt Homes, the Homes and Communities agency (HCA) and East Cowes Town Council.

The woodland is the latest addition to Gift to Nature’s set of 12 Island-wide conservation sites and is a fantastic haven for wildlife in the centre of town.  It provides a home to bats, badgers, red squirrels, slow worms and many butterflies, birds and flowers. Over 616 species of invertebrates have also been found there.  There’s also an amazing variety of tree species, many are still quite young and will be given room to grow and mature but there are in amongst them seven wonderful old veteran oaks full of nooks and crannies and draped in ivy. These are important landmarks and exceptional habitats.

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But, like all Gift to Nature sites, it’s not just for the animals, birds and bugs and Gift to Nature is very keen to encourage local people to visit and enjoy the woodland too.

Ian Boyd (pictured) of Island 2000 and Natural Enterprise explains: “We were very pleased and honoured to have Councillor Luisa Hillard and Mayor Jane Rann conduct a fantastic opening ceremony at which all the assembled guests threw into the air beautiful, multi-coloured origami field maple seeds and watched them spiral back to earth! The weather was just amazing, the wood looked a picture and visitors enjoyed story-telling, bug hunting, treasure hunts, woodcraft and more. A banquet of fruit and chocolate brownies, some kindly donated by Waitrose in East Cowes, went down a treat.  Thanks too to Barratts for extra supplies and materials and of course to Cemex who helped fund the opening. The excellent Landscape Therapy has been working to prepare the wood and have created fantastic natural benches and paths.  We were lucky enough also to have the help of the amazingly talented Hannah George from Eccleston George who really made the day with her beautiful folded paper decorations and Castle Copse sign.  A lot of hard work by legions of volunteers has gone into restoring Castle Copse so thanks to the Green Gym, Green Army and to Natural Wight too for the months of clean-up, tree planting and endless sycamore-pulling!  The copse has been fenced off from public access for 7 years and it was just lovely to hear how thrilled so many local people genuinely were at having their wood back again. We look forward to making it as good as we possibly can, for people and for wildlife.”

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