63, 000 native trees to be planted in the Yorkshire region by 2020

A 14-year project to restore Yorkshire’s ancient woodland back to its original state has reached its second phase with 63, 000 native trees expected to be planted before 2020.

Since the project began in 2011, non-native trees and invasive weeds, such as Rhododendron, Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam, have been removed from 10 ancient woodland sites including at Agden Reservoir’s ancient woodland in Sheffield.

Thousands of native trees such as oak, hazel, rowan, alder and holly have been re-introduced to the historic woodlands, thanks to a collaboration between Yorkshire Water, the Forestry Commission and Natural England.

Geoff Lomas, recreation and catchment manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “We have allocated over £1m to invest over the next five years to manage these woodlands. This will help to create a more resilient woodland that restores original features.”

The work is being undertaken to conserve and enhance the native habitat and wildlife found in these woodlands. Conservationists say this is because many are in decline due to an increasing presence of non-native trees and harmful invasive weed species.

At Agden’s woodland, previously extensive Rhododendron weeds have been removed and will require ongoing control measures over the coming years. Project leaders also claim the stocking of native tree species where Rhododendron once dominated will improve the structural attributes of existing woodland. There is over 220 hectares of ancient woodland on Yorkshire Water’s land. To date, 75 hectares have been enhanced and a further 75 will be restored over the next five years, with the rest of the conservation due to be completed by 2025.