Less than 5% of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is covered by woodland.
About one fifth of the woodland in the National Park is ‘Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland’ (ASNW) which means there has been a continuous coverage of trees for several centuries. For the purpose of producing an ancient woodland inventory ASNW has been defined as any wood where there was evidence it was in existence as woodland in AD1600. This is a date before tree planting is reckoned to have become commonplace, but, in truth, if a woodland existed in 1600 it was already likely to be old, perhaps thousands of years old. ASNW is often very rich in wildlife because over time it has developed into a complex eco-system supporting many species of plant and animal. Generally, it is not a habitat that is re-creatable once lost (at least not in timescales meaningful to human lifespans).
Plantations are woodlands that have been deliberately planted with trees by humans. In the Dales there are a few examples of Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) where the original ASNW trees were cleared and the ground re-planted with other trees (usually conifers) for timber production or cover for gamebirds. Most plantation woodlands have been created in the last two hundred years or so.
The Dales contain a few Juniper scrub woodlands of UK importance because of their rarity.
For information on wooded habitats, follow the links to:
Individual trees and groups of trees outside of woodlands and hedgerows make an important contribution to the Dales landscapes and their wildlife. The predominant tree in the Dales has been the Ash, but Ash Dieback disease is decimating populations. Other trees that are important components of broad-leaved woodland in the Dales National Park include Hazel, Birch, Oak, Rowan and Elm. Sycamore is found planted in many small plantations (as is Beech) and the former is often found as a prominent, large individual tree in the middle of fields or on boundaries.