Funding boost for Swale nature reserve

Pollarded tree at Cromers Wood

Kent Wildlife Trust is celebrating a £26,221.00 funding boost from SUEZ Communities Trust (formerly SITA Trust) for its Down the Woodland Path project.

Located close to the busy Sittingbourne town, Cromers Wood offers a natural oasis in an increasingly urbanised area (Swale Borough Council has a target of building 776 new houses per year until 2031).

The nature reserve is popular with dog-walkers, families, lunchtime visitors from the nearby Kent Science Park, local businesses and a children’s nursery.

Kent Wildlife Trust - which recently launched the HLF-funded Wooden it be Crafty project at the same site - will further raise the profile of the woodland and encourage a greater number and diversity of visitors from Sittingbourne, and surrounding areas.

Cromers Wood provides a wonderful wild space for many. However, limited accessibility and poor visitor infrastructure has proved to be a barrier to public use of the site, undermining the woodland’s value as a public amenity.

The Down the Woodland Path project will remove this barrier, rejuvenating the visitor offer so that more people can enjoy and benefit from the woodland and the varied wildlife it supports.

Martin Keelor of Kent Wildlife Trust, who is leading both projects, said: “Amidst all the development that is taking place in this area is this oasis for wildlife and tranquillity. Now, with the help of SUEZ Communities Trust, visitors to Cromer’s Wood will be able to discover more about the species that live here as well as making their visit more rewarding and refreshing. We are very grateful to SUEZ CommunitiesTrust for this opportunity to bring people and wildlife together and enable us to make improvements to encourage a wider range of people to visit the site.”

Marek Gordon, Chairman of SUEZ Communities Trust added: “SUEZ Communities Trust provides grants through the Landfill Communities Fund.

his important source of funding has been available since 1997 and has provided many worthy projects with more than £1.4 billion. We were delighted to be able to offer funding to Kent Wildlife Trust.”

Planned improvements for the reserve include:

  • Resurfacing tracks leading to the woodland and the main sections within the woodland to improve access for wheelchair users and pushchairs.
  • Kissing gates installed for ease of visitor access, and to prevent anti-social use of the site.
  • New interpretation boards to welcome visitors and provide information about the reserve and habitats and species that visitors might see.
  • Finger posts and waymarkers to provide directional information and clearly marked walking trails.
  • Viewing platform with accessible boardwalk to improve visual access to the pond and provide a comfortable and tranquil spot for visitors to sit and enjoy the wildlife. The platform will also provide a multifunctional activity space that can be used for a range of activities, from woodworking sessions, to art and yoga classes.
  • Benches and picnic tables installed at various points within the woodland.

The ongoing Wooden it be Crafty project is delivering numerous workshops, from wildlife walks and talks, to bushcraft sessions within the woodland. Kent Wildlife Trust is also working closely within the community and with partner organisations including Optivo (housing association), Riverside Care and Support (The Quays), Swale Youth Hub and Skillnet to encourage new audiences to use and enjoy the reserve.