As the UK's largest woodland conservation charity, protecting and restoring woodland is close to Woodland Trust's heart. But as demonstrated by the work they are doing at Smithills Estate, they do so much more. Their purchase of Smithills was a valuable opportunity to bring nature closer to the people of Bolton and the North West, working closely with local communities to make it a space that they could enjoy as well as a place for enterprise. The site is now home to 11 social enterprises, creating employment opportunities and supporting the local economy.
For the Woodland Trust, it was also an opportunity for them to learn more about different types of conservation work in a landscape scale setting. With Smithills' mix of habitats including grassland, farmland and peatland, it was quite a change from the Trust's specialised knowledge base on woodlands. Before acquiring Smithills, they didn't have a strong presence in the North, which also made it different from their previous purchases.
Using our Land Purchase Facility, we've partnered with the Woodland Trust multiple times to help them buy land for conservation. Smithills Estate was one of our largest social investments of this type, and really highlights how restoring nature benefits us all. Working with Woodland Trust, we're impressed with their ambition to challenge themselves and improve. But also to be brave in taking on a site in an area where they aren't so well known, ensuring it is available for people to use, enjoy and make better.