By Councillor Chris Cornell / Education / 0 Comments

Canterbury: A city in a Forest

As part of our ‘Green Fingers’ series, Professor Peter Taylor Gooby shares his thoughts on how Canterbury could be made a greener city.

Canterbury has a greater concentration of medieval buildings than any city in the South-East. It also has a greater concentration of woodland around it. To the west and north-west there is there is Church Wood, Blean Wood, Grimshill Wood and Victory Wood, then arcing right across the north Clowes Wood, Thornden Wood and West Blean Wood, one of the largest concentrations of ancient woodland in England. Following down the eastern side of the City, beyond Sturry there is East Blean Wood and a whole range of smaller woodlands: Kemberland Wood, Hoades Wood, Den Grove Wood, Barton Wood, Honey Hill Wood, Little Hall Wood and others, none of them with a gap greater than two hundred metres to the next. Crossing the Stour at Fordwich we have Hospital Wood, Trenleypark Wood, Down Wood, Pine Wood with its Roman road and through Firdown and Lamstead to the railway bridge near Bekesbourne.

For the last quarter of the circuit of Canterbury, the wood lover must dash across open country for nearly half the distance – under the shelter of woodland near Bridge, then through Gorsley Wood, Whitehill Wood, Iffin Wood and , onto the western flank of the city, Larkey Valley Wood, Howfield Wood (with the Iron Age hill fort at Bigbury) and back under trees in Homestall Wood above Harbledown.

Our built heritage is justly celebrated and attracts tourists from around the world. Our woodland heritage is simply unique. No city in Southern England has inherited such a wealth of woodland.

The woods of Canterbury are our lungs, our garden and our sanctuary.

Here’s my dream:

Canterbury City Council adopts “Canterbury City in a Forest” as a long-term goal. It works with the Woodland Trust, Kent County Council, the Canterbury Society and other bodies to make the idea a reality. It encourages forestry and promotes woodland tourism.

What a legacy to pass on to our children! Or we could go for more housing estates and shopping centres and worse clogged-up roads, just like anywhere else.

If you agree that ‘Canterbury is Choking’ why don’t you join us on  Thursday 26th April for  a 5.45pm march from the Beaney to Canterbury City Council in protest of poor air quality, congestion, and to press for a Car-free Canterbury Day in September.


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