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Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Tuesday, 14 September 2010 17:47 UK
Suffolk Wildlife Trust's final piece of Bradfield Woods
By Philippa Taylor
BBC Suffolk

Bradfield Woods, Suffolk
Bradfield Woods is a Site of Special Scientific Interest

An appeal has been launched by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) to buy the final piece of an ancient woodland.

Bradfield Woods near Bury St Edmunds cover 150 acres (70 hectares) and the SWT needs £45,000 to buy the 16 acres which it doesn't own.

"It's quite magical in the fact that it hasn't been managed for the last 60 years," said Pete Fordham MBE, warden at Bradfield Woods.

"It's important to get it back into some kind of management."

Bradfield Woods has over 370 species of flowering plants and around 420 different fungi.

The woodland is coppiced, which means the stems of young trees are cut at ground level to promote vigorous re-growth. This also provides straight poles for thatching, basket weaving etc.

The SWT say the woods have been managed since 1252, but there's evidence they've been there even longer.

"We do know before that date that they'd been managed by man because of the ages of the ancient coppice stools, particularly the ash stools," said Pete.

"Some are over a thousand years old so historically it's very important."

Bradfield Woods, Suffolk
The pond is in the area which the Suffolk Wildlife Trust wants to buy

Rakes progress

In the 1900s, a rake factory was set up in the area and the owners bought the wood and kept the coppicing rotation going right up to the present date.

"Most ancient woodlands declined when they were coppiced by the 1900s, but this wood is quite unique in the fact of its continuity of management with a lot of wildlife adapting to the different ages of coppice," said Pete.

The woodland varies considerably in the 16 acres the SWT is trying to buy.

Part of it is heavy boulder clay with a lot of dogs mercury, field maple, hawthorn, hazel and a predominance of ash.

"This we're going to hopefully restore into coppice rotation over a five year period," said Pete.

"A third of the area is quite birchy with much lighter soils, so it's not worth getting this back into coppice as it's quite 'overstood' and would cause quite a problem."

There's also a pond in this area which is going to be a priority for Pete's working party to clear.

"We can open it up a lot," he said. "There's a lot of fallen willow, it's very shaded and the first thing we need to do is winch and get all the rotten wood and the fallen trees out."

Great crested newt
The great crested newt is found throughout Europe

The Trust will survey the pond to see if there are any newts in there.

Pete doubts it as it's been so overgrown for so long, although there are great crested newts in other ponds in the woods.

He's also welcoming plans for a visitor centre, made out of local timber, which would be built close to the car park.

"It'll be a much nicer office than the shed I've had for quite some years."

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