51-year-old-letter reveals resident’s late father’s Outwoods wish has come true

Published: Wed 7th September, 2022

  • Jane Hollingworth in the Outwoods with her dad's 51-year-old letter.

A local resident has shared her delight after discovering her father’s wish to restore the Outwoods in Loughborough is becoming a reality.

Jane Hollingworth, a Quorn Parish Councillor and volunteer for Quorn in Bloom got in touch with the borough Council after finding a letter her father wrote 51 years ago to the Loughborough Echo, calling for the Outwoods to be restored.

Jane discovered the letter in her father’s belongings after he sadly passed away.

Peter Gamble, who also lived in Quorn and was passionate about nature and wildlife, wrote to the Loughborough Echo in 1970 to express his concerns about the planting of conifer trees at the Outwoods and the impact it was having on the character of the ancient woodland.

 The coniferous trees were planted around 80 years ago as crop but have stopped native plants from growing and some wildlife from flourishing.

In 2019, the Council, which maintains the Outwoods, working alongside the Outwoods Management Committee, started a long-term project to restore the site back to its natural and true historic state of an oak acid woodland.

The project is part of a Countryside Stewardship scheme, run by Natural England and the Forestry Commission, and aims to preserve the ecology and habitats found in the Outwoods. It involves gradually removing non-native coniferous trees such as Scots pine and European Larch.

Since the project got underway, over 2,000 native oak trees have been planted and other native species such as rowan and silver birch are being allowed to naturally grow back.

As a regular visitor to the Outwoods, Jane was already aware of the project but said she was pleased to find her dad’s letter calling for the woodland to be restored.

Jane said: “I regularly enjoy a walk at the Outwoods so was already aware of the restoration project, but it became more important after discovering my dad’s letter. It was lovely to read how the Outwoods was before the coniferous planting and that his calls for the woodland to be restored back to its historic and natural state has come true.

“Dad loved visiting the Outwoods and was very passionate about nature. He would be pleased this work is being carried out so future generations will be able to enjoy the Outwoods as it was many years ago.”

Peter's letter, which was published in 1970, says: “Whatever justification there may be on economic grounds, for planting coniferous trees in Forestry Commission or private woodland, there seems no really valid reasons for adopting such a policy in public amenity areas such as the Outwoods and it is extremely important that this practice is halted at once.”

The letter is finished with: “It is not necessarily good conservation practice to plant a tree or trees. It all depends on what you plant and where you plant it”

A full version of the letter can be read at: www.charnwood.gov.uk/OutwoodsLetter

The next phase of restoration works at the Outwoods is due to take place this Autumn.

Further sections of non-native trees will be gradually removed, and native oak trees will be planted and allowed to grow back naturally, returning the Outwoods to a natural acid oak woodland.

Cllr Hilary Fryer, chair of the Outwoods Management Committee said: “I would like to thank Jane for sharing this letter with us. The Outwoods clearly meant a lot to her dad which is the case for thousands of residents.

“Woodlands need to be managed very carefully and this long-term restoration project will make sure the Outwoods can be enjoyed by many generations in the future.”

The Outwoods is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England, which means it is protected by law to conserve its wildlife and geology. It is also part of the ancient Charnwood Forest and is the most easterly part of the National Forest.

For more information and the latest updates about the project visit www.charnwood.gov.uk/Outwoodsrestoration.

Residents can also sign up to the Council’s email alerts to keep up to date with its latest news and information, visit www.charnwood.gov.uk/alerts