AN ENVIRONMENTAL charity has been putting more than£17,000 worth of funding to good use improving one of County Durham’s most important natural habitats.

The Woodland Trust was awarded the funds by Durham Area Action Partnership (AAP) to make the 67 hectare Low Burnhall, between Durham City and Croxdale, richer and more wildlife-friendly, as well improving access for visitors.

Improvements made using the funding include repairs and upgrades to the car park and access track, upgrading of the permissive path behind Oakmead House, and the installation of new seats.

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The trust has also created ‘wet scrapes’ – areas which will enrich the site for water-loving wildlife.

This month, the trust is installing new signage to help visitors find other attractions close to Low Burnhall which they can visit .

Woodland Trust site manager Gary Haley said: “The generous grant we were given through Durham AAP’s Neighbourhood Budget Funding has allowed us to carry out some great improvements on-site.

“These include improving the path alongside the River Browney and creating a number of wet scrapes near the River Wear to improve the habitat for wildlife and create a more interesting environment for bird watchers.

“The funding has also allowed us to hold family events and activities for hundreds of local schoolchildren.”

Durham county councillor David Stoker said: “I am absolutely delighted, through the AAP, to be able to help the Woodland Trust complete this amazing woodland park at the edge of the city.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for all those who walk, bird watch and take their dogs for a run. It is a marvellous addition to the city’s amenities.”

The trust - with the help of funding from the council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Forestry Commission, Biffa Award, TK Maxx, The Shears Foundation, IKEA Family and former County Durham Environmental Trust - has been improving Low Burnhall for visitors by creating new footpaths, rides and open spaces, sculptures and a bird hide.

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