Dane Valley Woods recover from an extensive fire

Dane Valley Woods is 12-acre site established in 2003 on a former landfill site, as a voluntary-run community woodland, and has grown into a wildlife haven in the heart of Margate.


Upwards of 6,400 native trees have been planted across the site, helping to green a tree-poor Thanet, whose canopy coverage is around 80% less than the UK average.  However, on Wednesday 31st August 2022 disaster struck when a huge fire tore through an estimated one quarter of the whole site, in a large scale incident that required six fire appliance crews to quell the flames.


After the initial shock of seeing the blackened aftermath, and never ones to quit or become disheartened, the Dane Valley Woods team of volunteers launched a wide-scale plan of action. Dubbed “Project Phoenix”, a series of task days and events were planned to deal with the aftermath of the flames and the devastation they have left behind. The team used on-the-ground assessments and aerial footage (courtesy of top local photographer Frank Leppard), to assess the extent of damage and split the 3-acre burn-site into 5 separate zones, each with their own characteristics and challenges. In an emergency meeting, the team categorised priorities and how these would fit into the seasonal nature of woodland maintenance.


Optimistic about nature’s ability to restore itself, but also aware that the woodlands may need a helping hand, the committee launched a restoration fundraiser to aid the team as they tackled these new challenges. The volunteer group were amazed when their GoFundMe page exceeded £1,000 of donations within just a couple of days of being set up. In addition, local crafters sold handmade wares to donate proceeds to the Woods, and offers of financial or physical support have poured in from organisations and individuals alike. The team have been overwhelmed by the response of the public and have felt that in-spite of its devastating impacts, the fire has allowed the local community to show its love and appreciation for the woodlands.


You can find out about the team and their work by following @danevalleywoods on Facebook and Instagram, and via their website. They hold regular conservation task days on the last Sunday of the month (except December), as well as wildlife walk and talks and other environmental awareness events throughout the year. [email protected]

Words courtesy of Kashmir Flint, a Dane Valley Woods volunteer.

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