A LOCAL resident is backing an appeal to raise £355,000 to help save Avoncliff Woods.

The Woodland Trust needs to raise the funds by the end of December to enable the organisation to purchase 48 acres of woods and the 26-acre field below them.

Freda Ferne, of Avoncliff, who has lived near the woods for the past 39 years, is backing the Trust’s appeal for funds.

She said: “It would be great if the Woodland Trust could take over these precious and wonderful woods then they would be in safe hands for all time and a great asset to us all.”

The Woodland Trust has so far raised enough money to purchase the Avoncliff Woods from a private landowner but now needs more funds to purchase the field.

The Trust’s site manager, Joe Middleton, says that, like many woods, Avoncliff has fallen victim to the deadly tree disease ash dieback. He said: “This opportunity will allow the charity to manage the wood and the effects of this devastating fungus, threatening millions of ash trees.

“If we can raise £355,000 by the end of December, we’ll be able to take Avoncliff under our care and protection and get to work right away.

“Then, after consulting the community, we can begin creating new woodland to extend Avoncliff, offering new access to local people and protecting those remarkable views across the Avon Valley.”

The Trust’s supporters are aiming to keep the 48 acres of rare and breathtakingly beautiful ancient woodland safe.

They want to use the extra 26 acres to carefully plant trees to buffer the woodland and create a wildlife-rich mosaic of trees and open space.

The project will include allowing local schoolchildren to plant trees, and creating new pathways through the woods for walkers.

Mr Middleton added:“Under our ownership, we will do our best to allow people to experience some of the magic of the ancient wood while keeping it as natural and unspoiled as possible.

“We owe it to the people of the South West to take this hidden gem of a wood into our care, allowing its peaceful beauty to slumber on forever.”

To donate, go to https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/support-us/support-an-appeal/avoncliff-wood-help-keep-a-sleeping-beauty-safe-forever/#