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The area which will be transformed into a new native broadleaf woodland30.05.07
£2.5 million project under way to convert Imerys' china clay waste tips to woodland

Work to create more than 339 hectares of new native broadleaf woodland on former china clay waste tips in mid-Cornwall is well under way thanks to a partnership between Imerys and Natural England (previously English Nature) and supported by investment from Objective One, Defra and other partners.

Along with the creation of large areas of new woodland, the project will see over 400 hectares of existing woodland brought into sustainable management, with species such as conifers and rhododendron removed and replaced with tree species that are native to Cornwall.

The £2.5 million four year project, which is due for completion in 2008, will see a total of 650,000 oak, ash and hazel trees planted to restore land that will become a rich ecosystem. 7.5 miles of new access routes will allow the public to see the woodlands grow and develop, providing a valuable asset for local tourism.

The project is already two thirds complete and by the end of May a total of 476,000 trees will have been planted by the 30-strong team working full-time on the scheme. Planted areas will be recognisable as woodland within five years and established within 10 years.

Led by Natural England, the project has been supported by investment of over £1 million from Objective One, £900,000 from Defra and £450,000 from Imerys along with an additional £90,000 from English Nature, Restormel Borough Council, The Forestry Commission and Cornwall County Council.

Cornish school children have played their part in transforming the landscape into a green oasis. Last October 300 primary school pupils from the area were invited to get involved with the tree planting. There are plans to repeat the opportunity later in the autumn for school children and scout groups from across the region to get hands on experience of making a positive contribution towards the natural world around them.

The China Clay Woodland Project is part of Imerys' long-term commitment to return the land used during their mining operations to other uses. A project completed in 2004 to restore areas of lowland heathland on areas which were once china clay waste tips has already been hugely successful. Together the heathlands and woodlands projects will create a striking natural environment of green, purple and brown against the striking bright blue pools on former clay workings.

Richard Bellamy, China Clay Woodland Project Manager, is delighted with the transformation of the landscape that has already been achieved: "The tree planting teams have certainly been busy and residents and visitors to the area will no doubt have seen the endless rows of green plastic tubes popping up everywhere. It's important that we protect the young saplings from being eaten by animals so the protective collars will stay in place until the trees can survive without the protection.

"Later in the summer we will be opening the first stretch of permissive footpath at Penrose, near Penwithick and hope that local residents and visitors will enjoy having access to some stunning scenery and the opportunity to see the landscape springing into life to become something truly stunning."

This summer will also see the opening of approximately five miles of permissive footpath at the Gilleys Mica Dam at Whitemoor near Roche. The figure-of-eight footpath will be open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders with views over Goss Moor.

Ivor Bowditch, Imerys Community & Public Relations Manager, said: "Imerys Minerals are constantly seeking ways to lessen the impact the china clay industry has on the landscape and The Woodlands Project is part of our long term commitment to restore the land for other uses. Once established, the woodlands will be a tremendous asset for wildlife and the local community."

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership, said: "This scheme demonstrates how partnership between the public and private sector can greatly enhance part of Cornwall's beautiful environment. It is also an example of how the rehabilitation of this former industrial landscape is a vital building block in the economic and community regeneration of the area – with a better environment comes greater social and economic confidence and with it increased business activity and employment."

For further information please contact John Casey on 01872 276276/07796 615864 or email john@dca-pr.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the China Clay Woodland Project through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

 

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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