A committed team of professional planters has been working in all weathers since the start of December to make our new 32ha woodland creation a reality.
Battling on through gales, driving rain – and a few glorious days of sunshine – on the exposed slopes of Fremington Edge, they have succeeded in getting all 33,630 stems safely in the ground.
We’re delighted with the results and were happy to accompany members of the YDNP woodland team to sign-off their work on Thursday.
(Having first discussed this area of planting back in Feb 2019, it feels like a long time coming…!)
Mimicking native woodland
The scheme has been designed to recreate a native woodland in due course: trees and shrubs were planted in groups of between 3 – 9 trees, randomly to mimic natural colonisation; more shrubs have been used on the woodland perimeter and upper slopes; and the planting density thins out the higher you climb, concentrating planting on areas where soil cover is more substantial.
The number of archeological remains and natural rock expanses that had to be avoided have also contributed to a more natural, non-uniformed effect. (The last thing we desired was a rectangular block!)
A fair bit of surveying and local historical research was done when deciding on what to plant, and we agreed on a mix that reflects what’s native to the area currently, as well as what once thrived in the locality…and could do so again.
The final mix includes: Rowan, Downy Birch, Small Leaved Lime, Large Leaved Lime, Sessile Oak, Pedunculate Oak, Elm, Sycamore, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Goat willow, Bird Cherry, Hazel, Holly, and Yew.
Of course planting is just the first step in establishing a new native woodland. Annual monitoring and maintenance is key to ensuring the vast majority of the 33,630 trees take – and we can only hope too, that the weather plays ball! Our aim is to include Heggs-Castle volunteers in our efforts, as well as encourage members of the general public to photograph and get in touch with anything they see that needs attention. Watch this space!
A huge thank you to the contractors on the ground, and to the Woodland Trust: Growing Back Greener and Tees-Swale: Naturally Connected schemes, whose funding has made this all possible.