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NEWS RELEASE No: 1448210 MARCH 2011

North West’s most important natural sites given boost by Forestry Commission funding

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A woodland carpet of mosses lichens and Bearberry

The Forestry Commission in Cumbria has helped to boost the region’s most important nature conservation sites as part of a programme of work culminating in the International Year of Biodiversity.

The United Nations declared 2010 International Year of Biodiversity as part of a drive to encourage Governments across the world to improve the natural environment.

Last year, following a seven-year project, the Forestry Commission had improved the condition of Sites of Special Scientific Importance (SSSI) it owns across England to the extent that now 99.5 per cent are in a favourable or recovering condition.

The Forestry Commission also helps private landowners improve woodland SSSIs through the English Woodland Grant System (EWGS). In the North West the Forestry Commission helped 37 private landowners to improve the conditions of 596.81 hectares of Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

One site that has benefited from the EWGS is Baysbrown Wood near Chapel Stile in the Lake District.

This rare wood, whose sheltered position supports specialised mosses and liverworts that are commonly found on Western Atlantic oak woods, is the only one of its kind in South Cumbria. It also supports birds such as the pied flycatcher, wood and willow warbler, redstart, tree pipit, and great spotted woodpecker.

However, this special habitat was being harmed by sheep and deer over-grazing. This led to a lack of native trees and other native plants regenerating as well as invasion by rhododendron, bracken and Himalayan balsam.

The Forestry Commission issued grants worth £28,500 to the owner of the land to put up deer fences, and remove rhododendron, Himalayan balsam, bracken and non-native conifers.

Peter Fox, woodland officer for the Forestry Commission, said:

“Baysbrown Wood is a very important site because its habitat is unique in South Cumbria. The moss and liverwort communities are particularly rare in this area and so the Forestry Commission has given grant aid through the English Woodland Grant Scheme to help preserve this rare habitat by helping keep the deer and livestock out and by removing the invasive species.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) set a target to have 95 per cent of SSSIs in either a ‘favourable’ or ‘recovering’ condition by 2010, International Year of Biodiversity.

For information on the types of grant that may be available to create a new woodland or for the stewardship of existing woodlands visit


Notes to editors

  1. Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible in England 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 further information visit 

  2. Forestry Commission England runs the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) to support and promote the national and localised delivery of forestry policy programmes. EWGS is a part of the Rural Development Plan for England (RDPE). Further information about these schemes can be found at: 

  3. The Forestry Commission (FC) North West England (NWE) supports the delivery of widespread public benefits across the region, using woodland management and creation as the basis for change. The FC NWE region has a diverse remit; as a grant giving body to the woodland sector; the forestry regulatory body; helping the region to address climate change by developing wood fuel supply; supporting and developing the region's forest and woodland industries; actively promoting and protecting the Northwest's natural heritage (especially ancient trees and woodlands) and enabling communities across the region to live healthier lives. For further information visit

Media contacts
Peter Fox on 017687 76616; Penny Oliver (Regional Policy Development Officer) on 07786 171654; or Kevin May (Grants, Regulation and Partnership Manager) on 017687 76616 or 07771 813139.