The Greensand Trust has been running an appeal to secure and restore Shire Oak Heath Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to its former glory throughout 2018.  Now, thanks to a generous donation from the Rotary Club of Leighton-Linslade, the appeal has almost achieved its total and, with a little more help, can raise the £50K needed to restore the site.

The 17 acre site, adjacent to Rushmere Country Park in Heath and Reach, was high quality heathland habitat until the mid-1990s, but a lack of management since then has resulted in habitats and species, such as Green Tiger beetles and common lizards, disappearing under bracken and scrub.

The site was secured by the Trust earlier this year, and restoration on part of it has begun, but a considerable sum was still required to ensure the project is a success.  The donation of £3,500 from the Rotary Club of Leighton-Linslade means this vision has now moved a step closer to reality.

Greensand Trust Director of Development Jon Balaam was delighted to receive the cheque from Rotary President Nick Inwards on a part of the site that had initial restoration works on it earlier on the year and had been sown with heather seed by St Leonard’s Lower School, Heath and Reach during the summer. 

He said: “We are now within touching distance of our £50,000 total thanks to this very generous donation, and all of the other donations and grants received.  We now need less than £3,000 to support final restoration activity which will hopefully take place later this year, so are asking people to dig deep and spread the word one last time.”  

The Trust’s Senior Ecologist, Phil Irving, was also able to point out new heather shoots which have already started coming through despite the long, hot summer, boding well for the future of the site. 

Rotary Club President Nick Inwards, said: “The Rotary Club of Leighton Linslade is proud to support such a worthwhile asset to our local community.  It’s great to see the progress already made on the site and we look forward to seeing the heathland establish itself over the next few years.”

The site will become part of the adjacent Rushmere Country Park and the project will also create a new, much-needed, safe cycle access from Heath and Reach for users of the country park.  Information panels will help people to learn about heathland habitats and their management, as well as the history of the site.

The Greensand Trust wishes to thank everyone who has donated so far, as well as the following funders: Central Bedfordshire Planning Obligations Fund, Biffa Award, the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Greensand Country Landscape Partnership and the Wixamtree Trust.

Donations can be made via: www.greensandtrust.org/appeal/restoring-shire-oak-heath-appeal