Jo Wood pleads for help to transform woodland into paradise for wildlife

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The businesswoman ex-wife of Rolling Stone Ronnie now lives off-grid and campaigns to help save the planet. And she wanted to check out Horse Common, which the Daily Express is working with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to buy.

The 94-acre plot of land in the New Forest has been described as the missing piece of a puzzle. The RSPB want to connect it to other parts of the wood and heathland to the north and south, turning it into a sanctuary for nature.

Jo, 67, said: “Horse Common is beautiful and it’d be so wonderful if the RSPB got the remaining bit.”

The Express has raised half of the £90,000 needed to transform the landscape, with the backing of TV presenter Chris Packham and Ecotalk.

Former Strictly contestant Jo, who runs an organic fragrance and bodycare company, now lives in a Northamptonshire farmhouse.

She added: “It’d be lovely to come back and see what it looks like in a few years. Come on readers, donate to this fantastic project!”

RSPB site manager Richard Snelling said the land in Wiltshire lacks species diversity.

He explained: “We have the land to the north and south but buying Horse Common is the only way we can unlock the landscape to do the type of habitat and species projects that we want to do.

“This campaign is really important to us to be able to buy that and then carry on with our work.”

The Daily Express has called for people to make space for nature through our Green Britain Needs You campaign. The plan is to create a “heritage and nature landscape” following the discovery of Bronze Age barrows.

Richard revealed the land would change in 10 years if it was under the RSPB’s care.

He said there would be a greater variety of grasses, wildflowers, Devon Ruby Red cattle grazing, butterflies and more invertebrates like damselflies, adding: “Obviously that habitat is much better for both people and species.”

Richard rated Horse Common a four out of 10 for biodiversity but said it could be at eight in a decade.

He said: “If there are a lot more species, you will see a lot more colour in the landscape. You’ll see a lot more diversity in the trees as well. There’s a lot of plantation trees here, like Scots Pine, but in 10 years there will be more broadleaf trees and interesting vegetation on the ground.

“We need to know what we want to save and what we want to change. We’ll probably even look at species introductions in the future. If we can eradicate mink, then we’ll probably go for water voles.

“We would like to see things that would naturally sit within wetter landscapes. We’d hope that damselflies and dragonflies would start coming back as well.

“Climate change is the tricky one. The real worry is a lot of birds rely on certain things emerging at certain times.”


To help raise funds for the RSPB to buy and rewild Horse Common please send cheques made payable to “RSPB” to Daily Express Horse Common appeal, RSPB, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL or donate here.

You can also raise money just by using your mobile phone. If you switch your mobile sim card to an Ecotalk + RSPB sim, the RSPB will receive donations every month for as long as you remain a customer.

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