Train Hugger Planting Projects

Case Study: Conversion of Conifer Plantation to Mixed Broadleaves

Case Study: Conversion of Conifer Plantation to Mixed Broadleaves

Pictured above: Looking south down the valley. Picture Credit: Mark Bradley, National Trust

The mature conifer plantation of 11.82 hectares was originally planted in the 1940s and 1950s when it was owned by the Forestry Commission. It is now owned by the National Trust. There is moorland to the North and East and farmland to the South and West. On the West side lies the upper reaches of Hodge beck.

The conifer plantation never thrived and now the National Trust wants to create a predominantly broadleaf woodland.

Management aims

The National Trust aims to provide greater habitat connectivity along the valley. The re-stocked Bloworth Wood will become a climate resilient woodland with diversity of structure through trees of differing ages and species. Natural regeneration will also be promoted.

The current woodland is split into a number of compartments. There are plans to fell in 2023 and plant in the 2023/24 planting season.

A total of 12,013 trees will be planted in species blocks under the Grants for Resilient Woodlands scheme which are funded by Train Hugger and Green The UK.

These include species which are known to grow well locally:

  • alder
  • aspen
  • blackthorn
  • downy birch
  • hawthorn
  • hazel
  • pedunculate oak
  • Scots pine
  • wych elm

Tree guards will be used to protect against rabbits and deer.

Wildlife corridors and water management

Pictured above:  Felled area awaiting restocking with broadleaves mix. Credit: Mark Bradley, National Trust

The restocking project will compliment a project begun in 2018 which saw 12,000 trees planted on a rough bracken covered slopes outside the woodland. By restocking Bloworth Wood with native broadleaves, National Trust will be extending that wildlife corridor further up the Bransdale valley . The aim is to improve biodiversity of fauna and flora, including providing habitats for breeding pairs of pied flycatchers which were present several decades ago and have started to return to the valley

Planting will also support flood alleviation work and help prevent soil runoff/erosion. This will help improve the water quality of the beck. As a tributary of the Rye, it will also help prevent flooding downstream at Malton.

Public access and community engagement

Pictured above: Looking north up the valley. Credit: Mark Bradley, National Trust.

Although there is currently no public access through Bloworth Wood, plans are in process to develop permissive paths to connect the woodland to the wider valley network of cycle and walking routes both in Bransdale and in the neighbouring Farndale Valley.

While the majority of the work will be carried out by contractors, one compartment will be planted by volunteers who will be encouraged to take ownership/management of sections of the woods.

You can read the original article here.

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Listed below are some of the trees planting on this site

Alder can be found across Europe and thrives in moist ground and damp cool areas, which is why you’ll often see alder trees planted near rivers and ponds. Moth caterpillars love alder leaves and the tree’s roots make an ideal nesting site for otters. For humans, the real value of alder wood is that it’s durable when wet, so is useful for making boats and sluice gates. The story goes that outlaws like Robin Hood would have used the green dye from alder flowers to camouflage their clothing!
This striking tree, also known as the “quaking aspen” has shimmering foliage and can grow to 25m tall. The Celts believed that when aspen leaves fluttered in the wind, the tree was communicating with spirits between this world and the next. Since the European Beaver was reintroduced into Scotland after centuries of extinction, aspen has been one of its favourite foods.
This small, thorny tree grows to around 5m tall and can be used in hedgerows. Its fruit - the sloe berry - looks a little like a small plum or damson and can be made into jam, jelly or even sloe gin. The blackthorn had a sinister reputation in mythology, where it was associated with witches.
The downy birch, or white birch, is a deciduous, broad-leafed tree which grows abundantly across the north of Europe and northern Asia. The outer bark can be stripped off without killing the tree, and its twigs and branches are flexible and make good brooms. The Sami people in Scandinavia use downy birch bark when making their traditional bread, while the tree’s sap can be collected in early spring and used to make a syrup or beer.
Downy Birch
Hawthorn is very much associated with the month of May, and the appearance of its bright, white flowers heralds the change from spring to summer. It is prolific in hedgerows, scrub and woodland throughout the UK and Ireland, and a single tree can grow as tall as 10m. In pagan times, hawthorn was a symbol of marriage and fertility, but in the Middle Ages, it was never brought into homes, as people believed it was a harbinger of illness and death.
The common hazel is native to Europe and western Asia and forms an important part of England’s hedgerows. We have all heard of hazelnuts, which are rich in unsaturated fats and protein, and an extremely popular ingredient in many of the world’s cuisines. Did you know that hazel trees were once seen as both magical and a symbol of fertility?
Also known as the common or English oak, this is the undisputed king of the woods, supporting more wildlife species than any other native tree in the UK. “Robur” in this oak’s Latin name means “strength” and “hard timber” because this tree produces incredibly durable wood which can be used to make many things, including furniture and flooring. The oak has been considered sacred by many gods in mythology throughout the ages.
Pedunculate Oak
The UK’s only truly native pine is Scotland’s national tree and can be found in abundance in the Highlands.The Caledonian Pine Forest is home to all sorts of wonderful species including the pine marten, red squirrel and rare Scottish wildcat. Scots pine has strong timber which is used for making fences, telegraph poles and other construction materials, and the bark can be tapped for resin to make turpentine.‍
Scots Pine
The wych elm is the only indisputably British native elm species, and gets several mentions in E.M. Forster’s novel “Howard’s End”. This tree needs deep, rich soil in order to flourish, so you’ll often find it growing near a river. In 18th century France, there was a brief craze for wych elm powder, which people believed could cure chest and stomach problems and settle the nerves.
Wych Elm
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