Whistle Crag between Middleton-in-Teesdale and Eggleston was one of the first of a series of planting schemes in the Living North Pennines.
The programme will see around 250 hectares of native upland oak and mixed ash woodlands restored in the Blanchland, Alston and Middleton areas.
The return of broadleaf trees
Land management practices in the past have meant that the native woodland species such as birch, ash, rowan and oak have gradually given way to uniform, close-packed coniferous plantations, which create a dense tree cover that suppresses other plant growth.
Times have changed, and now landowners are trying to achieve a balance between a working landscape and one that can support the diverse range of wildlife that we find in the North Pennines, such as the iconic black grouse. The North Pennines AONB Partnership is working with the landowners to help get the balance just right.
Many of the mature plantations being felled and replaced are in very steep-sided valleys with poor access; because of this conventional management of these sites often isn’t commercially viable. So traditional heavy horses are once again coming into their own, able to get in to the felling areas and able to pull heavy loads of felled wood away over extremely steep, rough ground using traditional snigging techniques and modern Scandinavian horse drawn equipment.
But sometimes the work calls for more modern methods and equipment; mature conifers being cleared at Selset in preparation for the planting of native broadleaves were brought down in seconds – see how this was done by looking at the Forestry Commission’s news release.
For more information about the work going on under the Woodlands – Small But Perfectly Formed project, contact Lis Airey on 01388 528801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org