The Friends of Crich Chase are aiming to fundraise the six-figure sum required to purchase the 182-acre ancient woodland, which was recently put up for sale. They want to protect it from the possibility of any development, and ensure that access is not restricted.
Sue Isaac, one of the organisers of FOCC, said the woods have been an integral part of the Crich community for years, but especially so during the difficult months of the pandemic.
“There are people who have lived here all their life and remember growing up and playing in the woods, and would hate to think that it wouldn’t be possible for their children to do so.
“What’s special about Crich Chase is just how beautiful and varied it is - people really appreciate it, and particularly during the pandemic, it’s been a place to go, with more people discovering it on their daily walks. You can get away from things in the woods, it’s peaceful and it’s really good for people’s mental health.
“There’s a history with local people and the woods, people even have wedding photos taken there- it’s a really important part of our landscape and community.”
The FOCC are collecting the money on behalf of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who will take ownership of Crich Chase- a site of Special Scientific Interest- if their bid is successful. They have already raised £21,000, with an anonymous local benefactor matching the first £10,000 that was donated.
Sue said that any donations would be much appreciated, and that people will be refunded if Crich Chase is sold before the DWT can place their bid. She also said the group believed they could meet the £720,000 asking price, but hoped a lower bid might suffice.
“The last time we were in contact with the selling agent, we were told there were still people viewing the wood, but they didn't have a firm offer, and that the current owners are positive about our plan, which we hope will give us some leeway.
“There’s an optimism that we can reach this figure. The DWT, who have a lot more experience doing this kind of thing than we do, are confident we can reach that target. We’re also hopeful that we don't have to get quite that much, that we can make a lower offer and get that accepted.
“If it doesn’t work out, people can get their money back - they’re not risking their money.”
Danielle Brown, Mobilisation Manager at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Crich woodland is incredibly special to the local community- places like this are vital for people and wildlife and we would be honoured to include it in our suite of reserves, and be involved in its care for generations to come.
“A number of donors have already stepped forward to pledge their support and we encourage anyone who can to help the community before it’s too late.”