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Open Letter to Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust

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We thank you for your support.


October 2023


Dear ,

Protecting rare and sensitive local habitat

We are a group of GWT members who are extremely concerned about a major threat to the future Slad Valley Nature Recovery Zone and the wildlife within it; we are also concerned that over the last 6 months GWT has remained virtually silent on the issue and has not engaged with our concerns. The threat concerns a wonderful area of rare limestone grassland known as Juniper Hill, directly next to the GWT reserve at Frith Wood.
This letter is to ask GWT as strongly as possible to start taking proactive steps to defend the Nature Recovery Zone, and to work with us on this to help ensure that this precious grassland area is not irretrievably ruined.
The issue relates to the fact that the land was purchased by Woodland Investment Management Company (or more commonly known as and its CEO Angus Hanton two years ago. They have split the site into five four acre plots; their business model has a track record in other parts of the country of selling to any buyers, who are most unlikely to conserve the field in the appropriate way. 

We have launched an Open Letter to Angus Hanton, CEO of Woodland Investment Management Company asking him to collaborate with concerned local residents to manage this grassland appropriately for long term conservation.  This would entail suspending his current plans to partition the land and either selling to NE or agreeing a management contract with a conservation organisation in order to maintain the regime of light grazing needed (please see technical note below).  The Friends of Juniper Hill Field are also in correspondence with   Stroud District Council on how best to protect the grassland. 

We are asking GWT to make a public statement on the importance of this field and the surrounding area and the critical importance of effective management of the field, and would like to request the following three points:

  1. That a public statement acknowledges that Juniper Hill Field’s future is critical to GWT’s management of Slad Valley Nature Recovery Zone including Frith Wood. At present ownership of the field includes access rights through Frith Wood and an increase of leisure traffic of five potential owners would seriously undermine the peace of this popular starting point for the famous Laurie Lee trail. It could also damage the trees protected by the SSSI designation.  

  2. That the public statement acknowledges that a crucial aspect of appropriate management of calcareous grassland is light grazing, and given the partitioning of the land and in due course five potential owners, this would not be feasible.  A number of experienced conservationists and ecologists - and we believe yours would agree that that Juniper Hill Field needs a management regime used in other nature reserves (Swift Hill, Snows Farm, Bulls Cross, Painswick Beacon, Juniper Hill).

  3. That GWT meets with us to discuss a shared programme of action to defend the field


(Please see attached a technical note by an conservation expert, who has had intimate knowledge of the field for the past decade)

We look forward to discussing this at the AGM and engaging with your team further later. 

Best wishes

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