A landowner has created seven hectares of new upland woodland in the Hope Valley. The work – facilitated by the Moors for the Future Partnership’s Clough Woodlands Project and made possible by grants from Natural England, the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust – includes the planting of over 11,500 trees of mixed native species, including oak, silver birch, downy birch, common alder, hawthorn, and hazel.
It will provide a habitat for unique birds including the willow tit – a key species in the Peak District National Park – by expanding and connecting existing broadleaved woodland. It will also create a habitat for a range of woodland species, such as tree pipits, redstarts and pied flycatchers, all of which are in decline across the country.
Dense bracken in the Hope Valley prevents grazing and other plants growing, and can cause instability of slopes, making them more prone to landslides. It can be a problem in upland areas where it can take hold and stop other plant species from growing, and is rarely eaten by livestock or wildlife. Sometimes the most cost-effective way of controlling bracken in steep-sided cloughs is to plant trees. The bracken needs to be controlled to prevent the saplings being out-competed. Once the trees are established, after five to ten years the canopy will out-shade the bracken and the new woodland will start to be recognisable.
Katy Thorpe, Senior Conservation Works Officer at Moors for the Future Partnership said: “new native woodlands are great for wildlife and have so many other benefits, like reducing the risk of flooding downstream, storing carbon and improving water quality – they’re a key part of the landscape of the uplands.”
The landowner said: “I grew up here and have always looked at the bracken-covered slopes of the clough and thought it would make a wonderful woodland. This area of the Hope Valley has been missing clough woodland for a long time. You will be able to see the newly created woodland clough for miles. It will be my children and their generation who will benefit most from this planting.”
The project also meets the Peak District National Park’s Biodiversity Action Plan objective of increasing semi-natural woodland, and to enhance and restore moorland fringe habitats, creating a mosaic of connected habitats to increase biodiversity and improve the area’s natural flood management ability.