COUNTY residents are being urged to join a national campaign which would help to safeguard Herefordshire’s ancient woodlands.

The Woodland Trust is asking the government to increase its legal protection of woodlands across the country.

It comes after environment secretary, Owen Paterson, told The Times that developers could be allowed to destroy ancient woodland if they agree to plant 100 trees for each one felled.

Mr Paterson said that “biodiversity offsetting” could apply to 400-year-old woodland, with the destruction of wildlife habitat balanced by funding for environmental improvements in other locations.

But the Woodland Trust claims that without better protection, the possible relaxation of planning rules could mean that some of Herefordshire’s most-loved ancient woods such as Credenhill Park Wood and Mousecastle Wood – near Hay-on-Wye – could be at risk.

Nikki Williams, Woodland Trust's head of campaigning, said: “Any government agreeing to the destruction of ancient woodland is wholly mistaken when referring to itself as the 'greenest government ever'”.

The Trust is calling for a "constructive and open discussion" with the government to prevent the further destruction of ancient woodlands that have developed over many centuries and are "irreplaceable" habitats.

Ancient woodland is one of the country's richest wildlife habitats and prove invaluable to countless plants, species and people, according to the Trust.

These woodlands are unable to speak up against the "destruction" they are currently facing.

One way the trust is looking to increase protection is to get more ancient woods designated as SSSIs (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

Some already in the county include Symonds Yat near Ross-on-Wye or Haugh Woods near Mordiford.

To help safeguard Herefordshire’s landmark woodlands visit: