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Ancient woodland with abundant Wild Garlic Credit: Robyn Guppy

Managing Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland

Why manage woodlands?

Within the Yorkshire Dales the majority of the ancient woodland is defined as upland mixed Ash woods, which is a priority habitat within the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Upland mixed Ash woods are an important habitat for a number of priority species including Netted carpet moth, High brown fritillary and the reintroduced Dormouse. These woodlands are in decline and as the only truly natural woodlands within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, they are considered to be the most highly valued resource in terms of ecological diversity of all the “stepping stones” of habitats, and will become an essential component in combating climate change and the dispersal of species through the landscape.

What are the aims of this woodland management?

The long term aim of the project is to restore all ancient replanted woodland to a semi-natural state and ensure that all semi-natural woodland is protected, enhanced and self-regenerating by 2020. Within the National Park there is 1519Ha of Ancient Semi Natural Woodland, of which around 600Ha is considered to be under good management. Therefore the remainder needs to be placed into some mechanism of good management.

What has the woodland management achieved?

Trees & Woodlands Officers of the National Park Authority have been working with landowners to advise on appropriate woodland management, restoration and protection of their woodlands. Alongside Officers of the Forestry Commission woodland management plans have been formulated and funding has been drawn down through the Forestry Commission’s Woodland Improvement Grants to enable the much needed practical works to be carried out on the ground. During 2012 over 50Ha of un-managed, often neglected woodland has been brought into good management, helping to ensure that this valuable and irreplaceable habitat is protected and enhanced to ensure its long term survival within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Who is involved in managing the woodlands?

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, landowners and the Forestry Commission.