THE Woodland Trust has less than two weeks to put together a bid to save a swathe of ancient Gwent woodland.

All parties interested in purchasing almost 900 acres of Wentwood Forest, near Caerwent, must make their final offers at noon on Thursday, July 14, it was announced last night.

Part of Wentwood Forest, Wales' most ancient woodland, is up for sale by its private owners.

The trust want to buy the forest and restore it for public use, and appealed for people to pledge money to help them raise £100,000 towards the cost.

Yesterday the trust revealed that public pledges now stand at £40,000, but a spokesman for the charity admitted it is going to be difficult meeting the deadline.

Rory Francis said: "Though this is a huge challenge, it is usual practice in the sale of such properties and the charity will be making its offer in the required form."

Even if the charity's bid is accepted by agents John Clegg and Co, the site may not be secured for some time.

Mr Francis said: "The sale of land is very like the sale and purchase of a house, in that nothing will be completed until contracts are exchanged.

"Once the offer has been accepted we still have to go through the legal process to exchange of contracts and then to completion.

"This will take several weeks and we will not have secured the site until contracts are exchanged."

If the trust's campaign is to succeed, fundraising needs to continue after the deadline.

Mr Francis said: "If we are successful it will be even more important for us to reach our fundraising target in time for when we exchange contracts.

"So if our bid is accepted, our fundraising effort will need to increase because we will know that we only have a short time to raise the remaining funds."