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Trees hitch a lift in the Peak District

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Albin Smith in the forest

Trees over 60 foot tall are taking to the air on the spectacular Snake Pass, Derbyshire, as work gathers pace to broaden habitats and revitalise a scenic woodland.

The Forestry Commission is using a “skyline” for the first time in the Snake Forest  to extract  over 6,000 tonnes of timber from steep ground which is off limits to conventional harvesting and forwarding machines.  

The system based on cables and pulleys is used in mountainous areas of Scotland, Wales and the Lake District to remove timber from inaccessible terrain.  But its deployment in the Peak District is helping forest chiefs implement a new woodland blueprint.

Albin Smith, from the Forestry Commission, explained:

"The Sitka spruce, pine and larch were all planted in 1930  as part of the major expansion of forests following the critical shortages experienced in the First World War.  Less thought was given to how the trees would be harvested from such steep ground, but the skyline is successfully solving that problem. Gradually we want to break-up the blanket of conifers on the hillside to create a more varied woodland with trees of different ages and more native species.  We also want to make the edge with the moorland more natural rather than a straight line."

As the  trees  are felled  cloughs in the 155 hectare Snake Forest will be allowed to naturally regenerate with native species such as oak, rowan, hawthorn  and willow, with additional planting of species such as aspen and hazel being undertaken to give Mother Nature a hand if needed. 

The plans calls for the forest to continue to produce timber - a vital renewable resource which has a key role to play in creating a more sustainable future. But this is being balanced with landscape and biodiversity goals. 

The trees are being felled by hardy foresters using chainsaws and then hitched to the industrial grade “zip-line” with chains and lowered down the  valley side.  There they are processed by a hi-tech harvester before being transported to the saw mill.   The harvesting work is expected to take until  May 2013.

Note to editor

1.    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.  To find out more about the region’s woods log-on to

2.    Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038 or