Belfairs Woodland Centre

Thursday 18th October 2012

Belfairs ParkBelfairs Park

Essex Wildlife Trust and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council are working together in partnership on an exciting project in the Hadleigh and Daws Heath area of South Essex.

Hadleigh and Daws Heath is a landscape of ancient woodlands and grasslands. The Woodlands of South Essex are important for Dormice and the Heath Fritillary Butterfly. The Heath Fritillary wtras locally extinct and reintroduced in the 1990s by Natural England. The colonies have spread across much of the ancient woodland but ongoing management and surveying of the food plant, Common Cow-wheat, will ensure that the spread will continue and that the management undertaken is appropriate.

A new Woodland Centre is currently being constructed in Belfairs Park, Southend-on-Sea, which will provide a space for schools, groups and families to learn more about our fantastic ancient woodlands in an interactive and hands-on way. Events and outdoor activities will be arranged throughout the year and opportunities will be provided for volunteers to gain practical experience in managing woodlands, grasslands and other important habitats.

The Woodland Centre will have a meeting hall that will be available for hire. Skilled staff will be able to provide bespoke activities for special interest groups and walks will be arranged across the whole landscape to help people access the fantastic natural and cultural heritage of this area.

An Education and Community Officer has recently started in post. She will be working with schools to provide Forest Education within the woodlands, where children learn about the environment, wildlife and nature through getting involved and learning practical skills. She will also be running activities for all the family within the park both before and after the centre is built.

A Woodland Ranger started in early October 2012 to undertake much of the practical conservation work within the landscape. This involves working with landowners, existing conservation groups and volunteers to ensure that the landscape is managed for the benefit of community, wildlife and local economy.

The aim of the project is to preserve this fantastic landscape for future generations and enable to local community to enjoy the countryside on their doorstep.