CAMPAIGNERS hoping to save Otley’s East Woods have smashed their crowdfunding target to raise £100,000 - with two days to go before the deadline.

A consortium of groups launched the week-long fundraiser to gather the massive amount to allow them to bid to buy the woodland, known locally as Weston Woods, when expressions of interest close on Tuesday.

On Sunday afternoon the total on the crowdfunding site topped the target of £100,000 - and donations continued to roll in, hitting £120,000 by shortly after 5pm.

This consortium of groups wants to protect East Wood as a community woodland with a focus on nature recovery - accessible to all, with an aim to benefit both people and wildlife.

The groups involved in the proposed community buy out are: Menston Area Nature Trust, Otley 2030, Wharfedale Naturalists Society, Wildlife Friendly Otley, Climate Action Ilkley, Climate Action Menston, Addingham Environment Group, Yorkshire Rewilding Network, Woodland Savers, and Protect Earth.

Bids will be invited by the current owners on Tuesday, and the Otley group is now in position to throw its hat into the ring to buy the woodland.

A spokesperson for Friends of Otley East Wood said: “We’re so grateful to our amazing community who have helped us to achieve our £100,000 target! But we’re not out of the woods yet, we don’t know what other offers are on the table, and we’ll need to pay VAT and need some funds for woodland management. "Please continue to show your love this Valentines and help us to protect this woodland for wildlife and for generations to come.”

Ilkley Gazette: East WoodEast Wood

Ian Brand, Vice-President Wharfedale Naturalists said: “This is truly a wonderful opportunity to buy and manage a beautiful local woodland, for not just now, but for future generations.

“Local community ownership and control will allow us to maintain access for everyone, while managing East Wood in a way to increase its biodiversity and richness. I urge everyone to contribute in any way they can.”

This 20-acre woodland of mixed deciduous woodland is rich in wildlife, including tawny owls, woodpeckers, red kites, goldcrests, tree creepers, warblers and deer. Oak, birch and sycamore are underlain by bluebells, wild garlic, brambles and other woodland flowers.

The wood is popular with locals, with a public footpath running through it, but campaigners are concerned that in private hands this resource might be lost – the rest of the wood could be kept private or new owners could choose to fell the trees for timber.

The consortium wants to protect East Wood as a community woodland with a focus on nature recovery - accessible to all, with an aim to benefit both people and wildlife.

Christoph Warrack from social enterprise, Woodland Savers said: “It’s impossible to imagine the story of East Wood without its community. This historic relationship now has an opportunity to secure a flourishing future for nature, in partnership with generations of local people.

“This is an outstanding community movement which truly deserves the prize of stewardship in perpetuity for the benefit of wildlife, people, and planet.”

And a spokesperson from Menston Area Nature Trust (MANT) said: “This magical place is vital for the wellbeing of local people, as well as a place that all comers can enjoy. MANT and our partners will be able to save this wood for perpetuity.”

* The crowdfunder can still be donated to at: