The HLF grant, along with £2.4million received from individuals and trusts, has enabled us to create the Biffa Award Welcome Building and visitor car park, to restore the Grade 1 downs landscape and historic boundaries, and to deliver an exciting range of activities. I thought this would be a good time to reflect on some of our achievements since the award.
Since the formal proposal to improve visitor facilities in 2002, we have been planning and fundraising to make the project a reality. Work on the main car park began shortly after the grant announcement, followed by the Welcome Building. The grant also helped us restore the Grade 1 landscape and heritage features. It gave us the flexibility to try new things, such as working with excluded audiences by creating community programmes for young people and older adults, who may have previously felt unable to visit the arboretum for a variety of reasons. The project has been a huge success, exceeding all our expectations.
I am delighted to say that we have now appointed a permanent Community Co-ordinator to continue this important work. It’s amazing to look back at photos and to see how much has been achieved. And really exciting to know so many people have benefited thanks to the HLF. Seeing community participants learning about coppicing and enjoying the benefits of the arboretum, spotting visitors looking for and learning about some of the worlds most threatened trees through our free Little Book of Disappearing Trees, and knowing people are exploring and understanding so much more about the arboretum, makes it all so worthwhile.
Our humble hut has been replaced by the wonderful new Biffa Award Welcome Building for visitors.
What we’ve achieved in Phase One since 2012
Phase One of the Westonbirt Project has been a huge success and achieved so much for the arboretum and our visitors. Here are just some of the wonderful things that have been achieved.
Much needed maintenance
The project saw a major programme of boundary improvements with traditional dry stone walls and railings reinstalled or reinstated a part of the heritage landscape.
We've reached out to over 4,600 people and involved them in community projects. This has included people of all ages and situations. We've not only engaged people on site but taken a little slice of Westonbirt to those who are unable to visit us.
Beautiful new downland
Our newly created downland is flourishing with an abundance of plants and animals enjoying the new habitat. You may have read about our BioBlitz in the last addition of the magazine, here's a reminder of the number of just some species found on the downland.