Campaigners trying to buy Wales' largest ancient wood have said they have not given hope of restoring it, despite being outbid for the site.
The forest once stretched from the River Usk to the Wye Valley
The Woodland Trust conservation group have been appealing to raise £1.5m to purchase Wentwood Forest near Newport in south Wales.
But the trust said it had been told another bid was higher, and it could not afford a bidding war.
Spokesman Rory Francis said it was "a big disappointment".
Around 12,000, including actress Dame Judi Dench, had pledged support for the campaign.
The ancient wood, which covers 352 hectares (870 acres) is the largest left in Wales and is home to protected species.
Mr Francis said they were still keen to "do the right thing" at Wentwood.
"We haven't pulled out. As a charity we just can't afford to get in a bidding war with a private sector bidder that is determined to acquire the site," he said.
"We have made it quite clear that if there is any problem with the other bid, we are still there, we are still keen to do the right thing and buy it if we can."
He said they were keen to find out who the rival bidders were.
"We would be very keen to work with them and to provide advice and support to try and make sure Wentwood gets the special care that we wanted to offer ourselves," he said.
However, he said that Welsh planning rules meant the site should not be developed, as they state applications should not damage ancient woodland.
"What we hope though is that not only would it be protected, it would be restored to its former glory.
"Although it was mostly planted with conifers after the First World War, if you look carefully underneath, you will find all that assemblage of plants associated with ancient woodland.
"We believe that if it has the right care, all of that ancient woodland flora and trees would come up again and it could be restored to something like a primeval forest.
"We still hope maybe if things go right that might be possible and maybe we might still succeed, but it is certainly difficult.
Announcing her support for the campaign, Dame Judi said it was the last chance to restore the forest to its former beauty.
"It would be a national tragedy if the characteristics of this ancient site were lost forever so please help us by offering your support or making a pledge to our public appeal."
An ancient woodland is described as land which has been continuously wooded since 1600 AD in Wales and England or 1750 AD in Scotland.