When the Gunton Woodland Community Project was formally constituted in March 1998 none of its founder members imagined that, 20 years later, the Group would still be a strong, energetic organisation, with many achievements behind it and yet with plenty of challenges for the future. Geography played a large part in this success story. Many of the residents adjoining Gunton Wood were recently retired, often with dogs that needed daily exercise, and so there was a captive audience of like minded individuals who had a vested interest in restoring the woodland. Since then, every Thursday morning, between 20 and 30 residents gather at 9 o’clock to begin the work party activities for that day. It is very much a social occasion, many strong and lasting friendships have been made and GWCP has become a unifying force for good which has won both local and national approval. A regular Newsletter, frequent outings and other social events all help to maintain the bonds that hold the Group together. Close relationships have been forged with several local schools by conducting regular nature walks and pond dipping exercises with the children and many illustrated talks have been given to local organisations describing the Group’s progress.
After the initial 5 year Work Plan for Gunton Wood had been completed, it became clear that care and maintenance activities alone would be insufficient to keep the large workforce occupied. With the agreement of Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the landowners, various projects have therefore been undertaken in nearby Foxburrow Wood, which is an Ancient Woodland. These include bramble pulling, coppicing, fencing, bridging and, more recently, the construction of short sections of boardwalk to facilitate access in wet weather.
At a public meeting in May 2000, called to discuss Tesco’s plans for developing their land to the South of Leisure Way, GWCP urged Tesco to allocate part of it for use as a Nature Reserve. Tesco agreed and, after two years of continuous pressure from GWCP, this proposal was formally approved by the Council Planning Authorities, although four more years passed before the final agreements were in place whereby Suffolk Wildlife Trust assumed ownership of the Reserve. GWCP worked closely with SWT to provide volunteer help to work on a variety of projects within the Reserve.
For most of 2009, several GWCP members led a campaign to resist a Council proposal to convert the “Church Field” into rugby pitches. Fortunately, Gunton Parochial Church Council, as owners of the field, also had strong objections and the Council withdrew their proposal. A separate group, Gunton Woodland Burial Park, was created and several GWCP members helped the new group and the Church to create a Woodland Burial Site which involved the planting of thousands of trees. Gunton Woodland Burial Park opened to the public on January 1st 2016.
Located in Lowestoft, Suffolk, Gunton Wood has an OSGB Grid Ref of: TM 543958. Click the map to open in Google Maps UK (opens in a new window).
Nearby, Foxburrow Wood has an OSGB Grid Ref of: TM 536956. Click the map to open in Google Maps UK (opens in a new window).
Gunton Meadow Nature Reserve which lies on the South side of Leisure Way is managed by Suffolk Wildlife Trust (OSGB Grid Ref TM 5389600).