History of BWAG
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Bredhurst Woodland Action Group (BWAG) was formed in May 2005. Initially, an Advisory Committee to Bredhurst Parish Council, it was approved as a Registered Charity in 2008. At the end of 2012, BWAG became an Incorporated Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee (Registered Company Number 8253717/Registered Charity Number 1149618).
BWAG’s objective is to restore and preserve Bredhurst Woods, an area of 600 acres of ancient woodland, surrounded by chalk grassland. Bredhurst Woods are situated on the North Downs; six miles north of Maidstone in Kent (click here for directions).
Bredhurst Wood is comprised of three separate woods – Monkdown, Friends Wood and Bredhurst Hurst which are located within the parishes of Bredhurst, Boxley and Detling. It is one of the largest woodlands in the North Kent Downs AONB protected landscape, yet its landscape and bio-diversity were being irreparably destroyed. Bredhurst Hurst suffered the most damage and it is here where the efforts and funding of BWAG are concentrated.
BWAG started with just six people in 2005 with the aim of stopping the destruction of our woodland. Support has grown and we now have over 400 members and have secured funding of approximately £200,000 from various sources.
We have strong support from many local businesses and Cllr Paul Carter (Leader of Kent County Council). We are working closely with the Mid Kent Downs Project, Kent Wildlife Trust, Kent County Council and Maidstone Borough Council. BWAG also works closely with a variety of organisations including the Ramblers Association, Kent Bat Group, West Kent Badger Group, Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group, local ornithologists, archaeologists, cub, guide and scout groups.
Sadly, over recent years, the area had become virtually off limits to walkers and horse riders. Those who did venture into the woods were faced with commercial scale fly-tipping, numerous burnt-out cars and paths which were made impassable by the illegal use of off-road vehicles. The source of the problem was a byway that cuts through the centre of the woodland which allowed off-road vehicles and fly tippers access to the entire area. Thanks to Kent County Council, vehicular access to the woods is now restricted and both ends of the byway are gated with only landowners and permit holders allowed access. When the scheme was introduced in 2008 it was only the second of its kind in the UK.
Bredhurst is designated as a Local Wildlife Site (formerly SNCI). Kent Wildlife Trust produced our current Management Plan.
Before any restoration work could begin, BWAG had to trace the landowners of Bredhurst Hurst. This was a difficult task, as in the late 1960s, this part of the wood was split into 139 separate plots and sold off individually (click here to view map). Land Registry provided information, but unfortunately, much of this was inaccurate. We have now established that there are 104 owners of this area and have successfully located around 80. The vast majority have given BWAG permission to go onto their land to remove fly-tipping and to carry out maintenance work. In 2013 BWAG began puchasing land and, to date, owns 9 plots.
We are grateful to the Royal Engineers who have spent many months restoring our paths and provided their manpower and machinery free of charge. Volunteers cleared all traces of fly-tipping and Bredhurst Hurst now looks cared for and is being enjoyed by an increasing number of walkers and horse riders. Our members agree that this important site must be preserved for future generations.
If you would like to support our project please click here for details about our membership scheme or how to give a donation. Thank you for your support.