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NEWS RELEASE No: 1368016 JUNE 2010

New grant aims to get more ancient woods turning over a new leaf

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The Forestry Commission has today launched a new grant scheme to get more precious ancient woodlands in Yorkshire and the Humber into good condition.

Such sites have been continuously wooded since the first reliable maps were produced in the 1600s, but in reality they could date back thousands of years to the time of the wild wood which covered much of Yorkshire after the last Ice Age.

They are unique havens for animals and rare plants and are an irreplaceable asset.

Now forest chiefs want to see more of these woods regain their ancient character and have drawn up a detailed map identifying sites across the region which they want to target with grants.

Spread widely, they include concentrations in the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, the Pennines between Huddersfield and Sheffield and the Aire Valley, Calder Valley and North East Leeds in West Yorkshire.

Of the region's 60,000 acres of ancient woods, over 50% have been re-planted to varying degrees by non-native trees and conifers, mainly during the 20th century in the push to bolster the nation’s depleted timber reserves.

Iwan Downey, Forestry Commission Operations Manager, said:

"Commercial harvesting of conifer trees remains crucial to the economy, but these days conservation goals are also key. The Forestry Commission is committed to restoring all the ancient woods on its estate. But regionally about 90% of all such sites are in private or local authority hands or in the charitable sector. Getting them in better shape will be a massive boost to wildlife and plants and these grants will be a big help. When ancient woods are well managed they are truly dynamic environments.”

Grants could pay for up 80% of the costs of such work has axing non-native tree species and opening up the tree canopy to let more light reach the ground, allowing wild flowers to flourish. To view the location of these woods go to: or call 01904 448778 to find out more.

Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.

The Forestry Commission 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.

Issued on behalf of the Forestry Commission by Richard Darn, COI, Leeds. Tel: 0113 3466085. Mobile 0775 367 0038.