“Wood-pasture and parkland are mosaic habitats valued for their trees, especially veteran and ancient trees , and the plants and animals that they support. Grazing animals are fundamental to the existence of this habitat. Specialised and varied habitats within wood- pasture and parkland provide a home for a wide range of species, many of which occur only in these habitats, particularly insects, lichens and fungi which depend on dead and decaying wood. Individual trees, some of which may be of great size and age, are key elements of the habitat and many sites are also important historic landscapes”
That is part of the official description of the rare and valuable habitat that is wood pasture or ‘silvo-pastoral agro-forestry’ as it is also known. The full description is here. https://data.jncc.gov.uk/data/2829ce47-1ca5-41e7-bc1a-871c1cc0b3ae/UKBAP-BAPHabitats-65-WoodPastureParkland-2011.pdf
The cluster would once have been wood pasture. In Andrew Fleming’s excellent book ‘Swaledale, Valley of the wild river’ there is a map showing what the land use was in medieval times. I have overlaid this on the current OS map and as you can see it shows clearly the extent of wood pasture many years ago.
Interestingly enough the north western edge pretty much mirrors that of the Heggs Farm part of the cluster. The land to the west of Heggs has very few established trees, whereas on Heggs, there are many old trees and it looks very like what wood pasture should look like.
Through careful use of grazing and replanting we hope to enhance what we already have and re-establish what wood pasture would have been there. This is something I would love to see so much more of in the Two Dales.