A WILDLIFE haven next to York's busy ring road is the latest local project to be highlighted in our Community Pride awards.

The Wheatlands Community Woodland, at Upper Poppleton, is in with a chance of carrying off the Transpennine Express-sponsored Best Community Project award.

Barry Otley, 63, a member of the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), set up the woodland on a five-acre section of his land at Dutton Farm in 1999.

Now nearly 5,000 native trees, including silver birch, hazel, holly and ash, have been planted there, with the help of pupils from Manor School in York.

In 1999, members of the local community formed the Wheatlands Woodland Group to help run the site.

Pupils from local schools visit its educational trails, and members of the public can wander along specially-cut paths.

Funded and supported by organisations including City of York Council and the Forestry Commission, the woodland has 23 bird boxes, eight bee hives, more than 65 types of wildflowers, an ancient hedgerow, along with butterflies and moths - all maintained by volunteers.

Barry said: "We are committed to the community and to education.

"There was a need for trees and landscaping here - and we wanted to get involved with the community.

"Trees are obviously a major asset for reducing pollution."

Helen Tanner, of Nether Poppleton, is a recent volunteer for the group, along with her husband David.

She said: "It's helping people to realise that we need to look after the environment. It's good to demonstrate to people and children that we can enjoy nature."

We are still on the hunt for York's community heroes. If you know anyone you would like to see recognised in our awards - be it a brave young person, or a truly public-spirited community volunteer - fill in the entry form on this page, remembering to include the category for which you are entering, and giving reasons on no more than two sides of A4.

Our judges will select three finalists in each category, and winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on December 1.

We are also looking for sponsors for our awards.

For more information on sponsoring an award category, phone Nigel Briggs at the Evening Press, on 01904 653051, or email nigel.briggs@ycp.co.uk

Updated: 11:39 Monday, June 14, 2004