Restoring native woodland at Kielder

Kielder Wildwood project officer Steven Lipscombe with one of the trees to be planted.
Kielder Wildwood project officer Steven Lipscombe with one of the trees to be planted.

A project to protect rare native broadleaf woodland has been given a cash boost.

The Kielder Wildwood project is working towards establishing a low density, native upland woodland on 100 hectares of open land along Scaup Burn at Kielderhead.

Now it has received a £5,000 grant from the Community Foundation, as part of The Lawrence Campbell Community First Fund and Three Valleys’ Fund.

The five-year project is managed by Northumberland Wildlife Trust in partnership with the Forestry Commission.

It is significant both locally and regionally, as native broadleaf woodland is so rare – there is less than one per cent in Northumberland.

It will expand the population of what could be the only few remaining native English Scots pines, referred to as William’s Cleugh pines, in the UK. The current population of trees is too small and ageing to allow a self-sustaining population to develop.

It offers the project team the chance to restore a characteristic native upland pine woodland habitat, unique to England, and which thrived in prehistoric times.

Fauna and flora biodiversity will be increased due to habitat diversification, as the woodland matures. Bird communities are expected to change favourably due to the enhancement of edge and scrub habitats.

Long-term, the wildwood will be extended up the tributaries of Scaup Burn, eventually reaching the neighbouring Northumberland Wildlife Trust Whitelee Moor Reserve to the east and the Wauchope Forest, to the north and west.

Last year, 53 volunteers planted more than 5,300 trees, including alder, downy birch, hawthorn and Scots pine on the lower slopes of the southern portion of the Kielder project area.

Now, thanks to the £5,000 from the Community Foundation, staff and volunteers are set to plant 6,500 downy birch and 300 holly trees along Scaup Burn – the northern and lower portion of the site, every Tuesday and Thursday, between March and the end of May.

The tree planting has been managed by Steven Lipscombe, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Kielder Wildwood project officer, who said: “We have a target of 39,000 trees to be planted between 2018 and 2022 , so the efforts of our Trust volunteers and university students is invaluable.”

To volunteer for the project, visit www.nwt.org.uk/wildwood