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Campaign sees return of plants to ancient woodlands in North York Moors National Park
8:00am Wednesday 27th February 2013 in News
A CAMPAIGN to restore the North York Moors National Park’s ancient woodlands will see a return of the much-loved bluebell, primrose, wood anemone and wild daffodil.
The National Park Authority’s new management plan has identified the restoration of ancient woodlands, currently planted with conifers, as a key conservation priority.
The North York Moors contains the highest concentration of such sites in the north of England.
Although woodland covers 22 per cent of the North York Moors National Park, only four per cent is classed as ancient and of this, only half still consists of native trees and shrubs. The other half are classed as ancient woodland sites but have been re-planted mainly with conifer trees.
While the impact of this can vary depending on the species planted and the management techniques used, this change has had a very detrimental impact on the wildlife and landscape value of the wood in many cases.
Most conifer trees cast a much denser shade than native species and thereby suppress plants and shrubs growing at a lower level.
Their needles can also acidify soil in the long-term which will change the type of plant that the area can support.
There is also concern that the longer that an ancient woodland site is covered by conifer trees, the less likely it is to regain some of its original wildlife and landscape value.
However, Peter Barfoot, the national park’s director of conservation, said: “The management plan makes it clear that the policy is not anti-conifer. The importance of conifer woodland for timber production and recreation is well recognised. Nor is the objective necessarily to return all ancient woodland planted with conifers to purely native woodland.
“In many cases, improvements can be achieved through management of existing trees and the development of suitable mixes of species, even including some conifers.
“The National Park Authority is keen to work with woodland owners and their managers to achieve improvements or restoration where possible. The authority is able to provide advice and help for managers and owners to obtain Forestry Commission grants for the necessary work.
Grants are also available direct from the park authority in some circumstances.”
Peter also emphasised that there was no compulsion on owners to restore ancient woodlands, but the authority would like to talk to owners and look at the options available.