Essex Wildlife Trust projects get Heritage Lottery Fund cash

The proposed Belfairs Woodland Centre
Image caption It is hoped the Belfairs Woodland Centre will attract more visitors to the area

A wildlife project in south Essex has received more than £850,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Hadleigh and Daws Heath Living Landscapes scheme includes an area of ancient woodland and two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

As well as ongoing restoration and management, a new visitor centre will be built at Belfairs Park.

The project is being run in partnership by Essex Wildlife Trust and Southend Borough Council.

It forms part of the Trust's "living landscapes" scheme designed to "restore, recreate and rebuild" important natural areas in the county.

As well as the the two SSSIs, the Hadleigh and Daws Heath scheme also includes nine local wildlife sites.

Its 470-hectare (1,160 acre) woodland, which includes trees which are more than 1,000 years old, is one of the earliest recorded in the county.

The new Belfairs Woodland Centre will be used as a base for staff as well as a visitors and education centre.

Simon Leftley, from Southend Borough Council, believed the money would "help create greater understanding of the importance of the ancient woodland and its surrounding area".

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