More ancient woodland is being restored in Kielder Water & Forest Park thanks to the increasing popularity of mountain biking and the development of trails.
The Forestry Commission has felled over three hectares (7.5 acres) of overgrown Christmas trees on the estate along Plashetts Burn and is allowing the land to revert back to its historic roots with trees like alder and birch.
Ancient woods are defined as those which appeared on the earliest reliable maps, making them at least 400 years old. Forest chiefs have carried out the project using some of cash from a £900,000 investment in new bike trails specially earmarked for environmental improvements along the route corridor.
Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist, explains:
“About 600 tonnes of timber have been felled in an old Norway spruce Christmas tree plantation along the watercourse. We know by studying the flora and historical records that the area once supported a very old wood. Our plan is to let the trees regenerate naturally, but we’ll carry out hand seeding if needed to give Mother Nature a helping hand.”
There are six such sites in Kielder Water & Forest Park and there are plans to restore or enhance them all over coming years. But to ensure that the endangered red squirrel – one of the forest’s most famous residents – retains a competitive advantage over greys, only small seed bearing trees will be nurtured. They offer a sufficient food source for the smaller red, but less adequate fare for its larger grey cousin.