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A project to recreate lost woodlands in the Peak District has borne fruit amidst the spectacular scenery of the Upper Derwent Valley.
Nearly 15 years ago the Forestry Commission began an experiment to encourage natural tree regeneration by fencing off two hectares of previously grazed land in an area of the Dark Peak known as the "West End", above Derwent Reservoir.
The land, part of the Dark Peak Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), was home to the last vestiges of a once thriving ancient woodland, where native trees such as ash, rowan, oak, alder and birch once covered the valley sides.
But all that remained were a few bedraggled geriatric trees.
Now a vibrant mixed woodland has taken root, delighting forest chiefs. Flowers like blue bell and wood violet have also returned.
Albin Smith, Forester with the Forestry Commission, who began the initiative, said:
“About 95% of the trees come from natural regeneration after being seeded by the few older specimens in the area. We are thrilled by the scheme’s success. Wildlife ranging from small mammals to birds to insects has been boosted and we will also be doing a bird survey this year to further gauge the project’s impact.”
Native trees cover just one per cent of the Peaks – one of the lowest figures for any UK national park - making it a priority habitat.
By using natural regeneration to revive the once barren hillside the unique local genetic strain of the trees was preserved. Foresters also planted a few species like aspen to add to diversity. Sensitive management will ensure the new wood continues to thrive.
Note to editor
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 www.forestry.gov.uk/eastmidlands
Media calls: Richard Darn on 0775 3670038.