ANCIENT trees near Helmsley have been given extra protection after two decades of restoration work.

Castle Hill Deer Park has been granted a Site of Special Scientific Interest designation for a 140-hectare area, enlarging the land which is covered by the status from two original 16-hectare areas.

The park includes the most important northerly lowland pasture oak woodland in England, with the fragile habitat having been restored over the last 20 years by the Forestry Commission – which leases it from the Helmsley Estate – and Natural England.

Nick Short, from the Commission, said: “We welcome this move to grant protected legal status to a much greater area, which underlines the value of the long-term work we are doing and our management of wildlife habitats.”