The much-loved Alder Coppice woods in Sedgley is gaining local nature reserve status thanks to the hard work of a friends group.
Dudley Council, which maintains the site, recently submitted an application to Natural England and a formal declaration is expected within the next few weeks.
A celebration event, marking the site’s soon to be enhanced status, will take place on Saturday (November 30) with members of The Friends of Alder Coppice and the Mayor of Dudley set to attend.
The Friends of Alder Coppice worked with the council to produce a comprehensive management plan, which has been approved by Forestry Commission England. The group has undertaken a vast amount of practical work to the woodland, making the site more accessible by opening paths and creating three-way colour coded marked routes. The routes follow wood-chipped and well maintained paths, where a number of tree stump seats have been added.
Alder Coppice now boasts the only ‘Conversation Crescent’ in the country, a series of bench seats that allow visitors to easily see and speak to one another or to enjoy space and solitude if they prefer. The special benches were funded by Age UK Dudley as part of a project to combat loneliness in older people.
Additionally, the friends have secured a £2,000 grant from the People’s Postcode Lottery Trust for tools, received sponsorship from a local businessman for insurance and have had gifts of tools, high visibility vests and money from supportive residents.
The group also provides health prescription system with the local GP Surgery on Northway. Any patient needing exercise or some time to de-stress is given a map of the woods and directed by the doctors to use the space to walk in nature and unwind.
Mayor of Dudley, Councillor David Stanley, said:
It’s such wonderful news to hear that the beautiful Alder Coppice woodland is set to be recognised as a local nature reserve.
It’s testament to the hard work, innovation and energy of the friends group that they have made this happen.
While as a council we continue to maintain the reserve and support the friends group, it just shows how everyone can benefit when we work together to create something for the whole community to enjoy.
Friends of Alder Coppice started when a group of residents led by wildlife lover Simon Biggs decided that more should be done to develop and promote the use of the 25 acres ancient woodland.
Simon Biggs, Chair of the Friends of Alder Coppice Nature Reserve said:
Since I started the friends group back in 2012, local residents, many of them retired, have given up their own time and a lot of their own effort to make the nature reserve a reality.
From the start, it was about opening up the woodland for the benefit of the community and handing something worthwhile onto the next generation for their enjoyment.
Residents who had nodded to each other for years now began to chat and many new and lasting friendships have been formed. The woodland is a wonderful place to visit and is already giving so much to this community.
A fundraising bird box scheme at the site, allows people to purchase a box for special occasions or in remembrance of a loved one. The recipient gets a photo of the box with a plaque on it, a photo of the tree which houses it, a map of where it is and a promise to look after it for at least one year and well into the future.
Visitors to the site can hope to spot woodpeckers, badgers foxes, Muntjack deer and a whole host of wild flower and fungi. It is particularly worth visiting during the bluebell season for one of the best displays in the area. The wild garlic follows close behind and can be found near the stream.
Alder Copper Nature reserve is situated between Northway and Penn Common in Sedgley. Access is via Northway (DY3 3RL) or Swallowfields Road (DY3 3TR).
People can find out more about the friends group at https://en-gb.facebook.com/FriendsofAlderCoppice/