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Wombwell Wood branches out with over 22,500 trees

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Wombwell Wood

If gardening leaves you with aching joints, then spare a thought for forest workers in Wombwell Woods, near Barnsley.

They are about to begin the Herculean task of hand-planting nearly 22,500 trees as part of a major Forestry Commission re-planting scheme.

The ancient wood has been extended onto former open cast land at Upper Woodhead meaning the beauty spot now covers 145 hectares (362 acres).

New trees are being planted throughout the new area and include 17,500 broadleaves like oak, wild cherry and ash. They will join the gnarled old oaks of Wombwell, which date back many centuries. A further 2,500 shrub species made up of Blackthorne, Hawthorne, Field maple, Hazel, Spindle, Wild privet and Dogwood will also take root. Together they will help add to the mosaic of habitats for wildlife, especially woodland birds, many of which are nationally under threat. South Yorkshire has been identified as a key location for species like redstart and wood warbler.

Andrew Powers from the Forestry Commission said:

“This planting scheme is part of our on-going project to revitalise one of South Yorkshire’s oldest oak woodlands and a key site for wildlife. Forestry is a long term business and the trees we plant today will ensure this magical place thrives well into the future.”

Elsewhere, in Derbyshire a major replanting of 25,000 Sitka spruce and 15,000 larch is planned for the spectacular Goyt Valley, near Buxton.

Across South Yorkshire and the East Midlands more hardwoods are also being planted like oak, sycamore and Sweet chestnut. Demand for such wood is on the increase as the market for wood fuel expands as a green alternative to fossil fuels. Revenue from such sales is up 40 per cent over the year, indicating that the woodfuel revolution is well and truly kindled.

Open cast operations were carried out at Upper Woodhead until 2005 by mining firm HJ Banks Ltd. As part of a far-sighted agreement the Forestry Commission acquired Wombwell Woods and the land has been restored to community woodland, complete with areas of grassland and wild flowers.

Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For more visit

Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038