New forest school in Doncaster gets the green light to go ahead with significant funding boost

A new project aims to combine nature and education whilst significantly improving the landscape of a derelict area in Doncaster by developing a new forest school which will be a free resource for the public to use.

Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 6:47 am

Edlington Town Council has received £52,660 from the FCC Communities Foundation to start work on a community project which involves transforming a green space in the area.

The project will be focused on developing a forest school which will be built at the Edlington Community Woodland adjoining onto Martinwells Lake.

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Coun Robert Reid with children from Edlington school Sir Thomas Wharton Academy back in 2018 when the project first launched.

“I have seen the mind boggling amount of work that has been necessary to get to this stage and was immensely proud to officially open the project as Mayor of Edlington two years ago with pupils from Sir Thomas Wharton Academy.

“The forest school will be a total game changer for our young people and encourage, motivate, engage and inspire them through positive outdoor experiences.”

Their aim is to get more young people learning outdoors and for the space to also serve as a meeting place for members of the community.

The area will have 16 limestone picnic benches and three carved limestone monoliths designed by the primary schools in Edlington.

The old allotments and rubbish have been removed to create a green space.

This section will be able to be used as an outdoor classroom for school visits as well as picnics and rest stops for dog walkers and ramblers.

The limestone for the outdoor area will match the native outcrop which already exists within the Edlington woodlands but will be sprayed with special sealant to ensure graffiti can be washed away easily.

FCC Communities Foundation is a not-for-profit business that awards grants for community projects through the Landfill Communities Fund.

This is the park currently - free of rubbish.

The entire project has been funded through grants and gifted donations, with no town council budget being used for this woodland transformation.

Previously the woodland housed an abandoned allotment site which had overgrown and become a dumping ground for fly tippers.

Linda Smith, town councillor and chair of the Community Woodland Project, said: “Before we started the area was not accessible to the general public.

“The brambles were home to old green houses filled with asbestos and overgrown with vegetation.

There will be an outdoor classroom area made of limestone that is native to the woodland.

“Now we have a nice green space where wildlife such as deer, rabbits and pheasants roam freely.”

Most of the brambles have been removed but a small section has been left untouched to make sure that animals living among the old allotments have not been displaced.

Reforestation is a big aim of the project and there are plans to plant 20 British trees such as oak, hazel and sycamore to encourage wildlife and insect populations to return to the area.

A wildflower area has been planted and the council has already noticed an increase in the number of visitors to the site.

Coun Smith said: “We have noticed that it is being used by people with wheelchairs as the area has great disabled access.

“It is also being used by families as it is a safe clean space where children can play safely.

The forest school will be accessible to the general public by Spring of 2021.

“Edlington does not really have a large park where this is possible and with more people spending time outside due to Covid-19 our site is proving popular.”

The forest school should be fully accessible to any school or group who want to use it by the spring.

Coun Smith added: “I’m extremely proud of absolutely everybody who has worked hard on this project over the course of the last four years.

“We have removed hundreds of tons of rubbish and cleared the huge site of fly tipping which is nothing short of remarkable.”

The work has been done by the Edlington Town Council, The Woodland Trust, The Woodland Project Committee, schools in Edlington and many volunteers.

Coun Smith hopes the new project will encourage more people to use Edlington’s green spaces and that in the future a walking route around the town will become a popular attraction.

If all goes to plan, the funding from the FCC Communities Foundation will enable the council to make the area into one of outstanding natural beauty and will kick start further plans of a County Park which encircles entire community.

The park would link up to the popular Trans-Pennine Trail and significantly increase the green space on offer to local residents and visitors.

Town Mayor Coun Keri Anderson said: “The Community Woodland Project has, and continues to, bring hope to our community.

“This generous grant will help us to develop an area of natural beauty right here on our doorstep.

“The natural space will give community members green spaces to enjoy in a positive manner rather than remembering the negativity that it once was.

“As well as improving the health and well being for everyone, young and old, in an area that is amongst the most deprived areas in our country.

“Over the course of the next six months the transformation that will unfold will give us an even greater sense of community pride.”

Construction on the outside classroom and seating area will start on Monday, November 30.

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