A welcome sign created by Marcia Swain age 10 who won the Silver End Primary School’s ‘Design the woodland sign’ competition, took pride of place within the woodland.
The Greener Silver End group began the £25,000 project to create a community woodland on wasteland at the edge of Silver End, in 2013.
It was made possible thanks to a £14,500 investment from Braintree District Council for clearing of the 0.5 hectare site and the planting of native tree saplings, a line of disease-resistant English elms and an oak tree.
Essex County Council further supported the project via a £6,000 grant from its Community Initiatives Fund to construct a new access path to help visitors with wheelchairs and buggies enjoy the woodland; and fund shrub and wildflower planting.
Emma Rowe, a founder member of Greener Silver End Group, said: “A big thank you to both Braintree District Council and Essex County Council for their vital funding. In addition, the outstanding progress we have made to turn our vision into reality would not have been possible without the support of the local community and the hard work of our dedicated team of volunteers.
If anyone is interested in green spaces and the local environment we’d love to welcome them to join the Greener Silver End group as there’s always plenty of work to join in with.”
Cllr Simon Walsh, Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste at Essex County Council said: “This is exactly the kind of community led project that our Community Initiatives Fund was set up to support. Natural green spaces such as this, with easy access for all, are precious havens for nature and wildlife and I’m sure the woodland will contribute to everyone’s enjoyment, learning and well-being now and for generations to come.”
Cllr James Abbott, Essex County Councillor for North Witham Division said: “It has taken many years of work to get to this stage but it has all been worthwhile and with the valued and continued support of the district and county councils, the completion of the project is in sight.
With our natural environment under pressure in many places it is good to put something back for nature as well as delivering a green asset for current and future local residents.”
Cllr Wendy Schmitt, Deputy Leader at Braintree District Council and Cabinet Member for Environment and Place, said: “We’re proud to have helped improve this space by sourcing funding, clearing the site and planting young trees.
One of our Council’s priorities is to help provide a sustainable environment and a great place to live, work and play and we can do this by maintaining high quality green spaces for all to enjoy. It is always a delight when children are involved, as they were on Saturday, with other enthusiastic volunteers.”
Greener Silver End is now looking to extend the path further, provide some seating in the centre of the woodland and continue wildflower and shrub planting.
Since Essex County Council launched its Community Initiatives Fund ten years ago, over £10 million has been invested into community projects that seek to protect or improve the social, environmental or economic well-being of their locality.
For more information about Essex County Council’s Community Initiatives Fund visit essex.gov.uk/cif