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Ancient woods get a boost from bikers

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cyclist in kielder

More ancient woodland is being restored in Kielder Water & Forest Park thanks to the mountain biking craze.

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, explained:

“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.”

Ancient woodland is very valuable for wildlife and plants and will add to the mosaic of habitats locally. 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.

Kielder Water & Forest Park was recently voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

1. The Forestry Commission 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 more visit

2. Funding for the new mountain bike trails in Kielder Water & Forest Park has come from the Northumberland Strategic Partnership via Single Programme funds from One NorthEast, European Regional Development Fund, Forestry Commission, Kielder Partnership and former Tynedale Council.

3. Photo shows professional mountain biker Clive Forth on one of the new trails in Kielder Water & Forest Park, where an ancient woodland is being restored using some of the cash being invested in the new bike network.

Richard Darn on 01226 246351. Mobile 0775 367 0038.