Woodland restoration project puts down roots

Kielderhead is one of the wildest landscapes in England.
Kielderhead is one of the wildest landscapes in England.

An ambitious project to restore one of the wildest landscapes in England has taken a step forward thanks to a funding boost.

The Kielderhead Wildwood project aims to bring back Scots pine and native woodland along the Scaup Burn at Kielderhead.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the Forestry Commission, has received initial support for a grant of £368,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help develop the next phase of the project.

A development grant of £20,700 has also been awarded to progress the plans and apply for the full grant.

Pollen analysis shows prehistoric woodland in the area with alder, birch, elm and willow as well as Scots pine, of which a few survive.

The project aims to bring all this back, restoring natural processes and rebuilding diverse and healthy ecosystems that help with carbon storage and water quality.

More native trees will be planted, encouraging the spread of wildlife. This will protect the future of species that are currently in decline, such as the ring ouzel and black grouse.

Much of the restoration work, such as tree planting, will be carried out by volunteers.

Heinz Traut, Northumberland Wildlife Trust red squirrel and woodland officer, said: “We are so pleased that the Kielder Wildwood project has been made possible by the HLF award and that this visionary project, which has been in the planning for years, will become a reality over the next few years.

“The project will offer people the amazing opportunity to experience one of the most remote parts of England, previously less accessible and appreciated, and reward them with the achievement that it will be in a better state for future generations.”

Ivor Crowther, head of HLF North East, said: “One of our wildest landscapes and home to some of the last remaining William’s Cleugh varieties of Scots pine in England, Kielderhead is an incredibly important part of our natural heritage. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, volunteers will gain the skills needed to become a driving force behind building a healthy future for the landscape, the wildlife that call it home and the people who enjoy it.”