Earth Trust


Mission Statement

Our Mission is to give people access to and experience of the environment through the natural green spaces we manage and together understand what we can do to care for the planet.


Earth Trust is an environmental learning and outreach charity, located in south Oxfordshire, in the UK, between the towns of Didcot, Abingdon and Wallingford. We care for over 1,200 acres of mixed farmland, woodland, waterways and wetlands, as well as five community reserves. Our spaces include a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, nature reserves and the iconic landmark, the Wittenham Clumps. We provide free access to more than 150,000 visits per year, making us one of the most widely visited ‘free to access’ green spaces in the South East of England.
Our charitable aims are to be the ‘champion’ for accessible natural green spaces (not just ours, but for people and communities everywhere) and our mission is to give people the opportunities to engage with their environment through these spaces. We aim to strike a balance between providing access for all, delivering public goods through our farming and forestry, as well as delivering benefits for the planet through conserving biodiversity and a wealth of habitats and natural capital. We deliver this through: a variety of education and outreach activities for mainstream and special educational needs (SEN) schools (including a course leading to an accredited qualification for SEN pupils); public engagement; apprenticeships and volunteering activities to over 200 volunteers. We manage our spaces through farming (providing businesses for seven tenants), innovative habitat maintenance and creation (including new wetlands), scientific research and public engagement to deliver a ‘green health service’ solution for the local population.

Program Details

Food & Farming: demonstrating to the public where our food comes from, the importance of looking after the soil and how food gets to our plate
  • Access and Events: We encourage free access to our 500 hectare farm where space is balanced for wildlife, people’s leisure time, arable crops, livestock grazing, timber production and other woodland products, including honey, cheese and pork. Our annual Lambing Weekends welcome 8,000+ people a year, showing farming in action and giving people a fun day out
  • Farming practice: We continue to explore and develop methods to show that farming practices can be environmentally friendly and economically sustainable. Our Farm Step Programme helps people who are currently locked out of farming by land price and availability, or by lack of skills. Our volunteers and Countryside Skills students learn coppicing and hedge-laying.
  • Supporting wildlife: We support pollinators through our actions on farmland, in towns and in the countryside as well as working hard to raise awareness of what pollinators need to survive and thrive. We support farmland birds by providing good habitats, including skylark plots, choosing less intensive crop cycles (Spring planting) and by distributing 33kg of seed three times a week to help birds through the winter.
Future Forests: demonstrating the importance and value of trees and the cycle of wood from planting trees, through managing woodlands, to producing timber
  • Forestry: We use integrated woodland management which balances each woodland’s value for amenity and for wildlife, as well as for economic, sustainable timber production. We are supported by 200+ volunteers who help on all our sites; in the woodlands they help to create and maintain a healthy understory which will support a rich diversity of wildlife.
  • Tree research: We have a number of tree collections including Paradise Wood, a nationally significant research woodland established in 1993 and containing 60,000 trees (of ash, cherry, walnut, beech and oak), together important for research into tree diseases affecting hardwood timber production in the UK.
  • Local woodlands: We encourage access to our woodlands and take schoolchildren and special needs groups to explore and enjoy their diversity. Little Wittenham Wood is a UK Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a EU Special Area of Conservation (SAC); Neptune Wood was planted to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar in 2005; Broad Arboretum is a living library of every tree and shrub species native to Oxfordshire.
Water & Wetlands: demonstrating the landscape management of water and wetlands, clean rivers and the importance of water to society
  • Wetlands: We created and continue to care for 17 ponds and 5 backwaters 2 reedbeds and an area of fen on the banks of the River Thames. Our volunteers planted 5,000 reeds, restored 20 hectares of grassland and planted 3,500 trees in a new wet woodland. The success of this project has led to a new bigger partnership project which has attracted a £1m Water Environment Grant from the EU. Our woodland ponds (created by Earth Trust in 2012) are a vital part of the SSSI habitat for Great Crested News.
  • Clean water: Through a partnership with Thames Water we lead primary school pupils on engaging, interactive visits to Didcot Sewage Works. We offer secondary school students geography trips with access to river ecosystems and other curriculum linked water themes.
Transformational Learning: improving skills, confidence and education for young people and adults through our learning programmes
  • Earth School: 3,500+ school children take part in our learning days each year. Our day-long workshops are held outdoors using cross-curricular teaching to cover art, science, literacy, geography, maths, history and culture.
  • Countryside Skills: 70-80 students/year enrol in our unique course that has been running for over 20 years. The weekly sessions offer experience and teaching to pupils who find classroom learning difficult. Each session is tailored those with Special Educational Needs, including students with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties. Countryside Skill is accredited by Open College Network (OCN) Credit4Learning and rewards learners from a variety of backgrounds with life skills, self-esteem and new experiences. Countryside Skills empowers young people to make positive choices for themselves through practical, hands-on outdoor activities such as coppicing, weaving willow hurdles, working with sheep, making fires and map reading
Primary Issue
Little Wittenham
Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4QZ
United Kingdom
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