‘Once-in-a-lifetime’ lottery grant to preserve Hainault Forest Country Park for future generations

PUBLISHED: 10:33 31 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:33 31 January 2017

Hainault Forest (credit: Michael Heffernan)

Hainault Forest (credit: Michael Heffernan)

Woodland Trust

An ancient forest in Redbridge that was used as medieval royal hunting ground by Henry I has been given a huge grant to ensure it remains open for future generations.

Hainault Forest Country Park has been awarded £4.5million by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A further £1.25m will be invested by Redbridge Council, with a further £250,000 from Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure.

The funding will improve the overall condition of the much-loved woodland, protecting threatened species and habitats and creating a range of new activities, including conservation management, animal husbandry and fruit-harvesting.

Cllr Sheila Bain, cabinet member for civic pride, said she was delighted by the news,

She said: “This is incredible news and represents months of tireless work.

“We greatly appreciate this support from HLF and look forward to preserving the legacy of Hainault Forest for many years to come.

“Hainault Forest is a beautiful area which provides residents and visitors a special place to relax and unwind and enjoy fantastic natural surroundings.”

Covering a total of 800 acres, Hainault Forest, in Romford Road, Chigwell, includes 250 acres of greenbelt, ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The funding will focus on four key areas of improvement, investment to preserve the area, improve the buildings and landscape and enlarge the zoo.

More than 158 species of bird have been recorded in the forest including turtle doves, bullfinches, and three species of woodpecker.

There are also more than 940 species of invertebrates such as butterflies and dragon flies, 79 of which are nationally scarce.

Cllr Bain said: “The investment will allow Redbridge to more effectively protect habitats and species that are currently in decline.

“It will also offer much more to visitors who will be able to enjoy the adapted historic buildings and our popular zoo, which will be modified to a centre for the captive breeding of UK native species that are under threat.

“It’s a very exciting project that draws its inspiration from the rich history of the area.”

Ros Kerslake, CEO of HLF, said the funding will make the world of difference.

She said: “Hainault Ancient Forest is both a wildlife haven and the backdrop to the lives of a large and diverse local population.

“The Forest is now at a crossroads where it’s in desperate need of investment to avoid further deterioration.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re helping give this special part of urban Redbridge a chance to survive and thrive.”

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