Woodland regeneration at Staward Gorge
Over the summer, we carried out the first step in our project to restore the natural woodland habitat of Staward Gorge. This included felling 15 hectares of non-native conifers that will eventually be replaced by a mix of native broadleaf tree species.
The project is part of our woodland management plan to restore the site to predominantly native broadleaf species to stimulate biodiversity.
To carry out this project, a phased removal of non-native conifers was carried. Around 15 ½ hectares of conifers were felled and will be ultimately replaced by native broadleaf and scots pine trees.
Much of Staward Gorge woodland is a ‘Plantation on an Ancient Woodland site’ (PAWs). During World War II, the original native broadleaf trees were felled as part of the war effort. After the war, the newly-barren woodland was replanted with fast growing conifer trees that could be used should another war break out. Fortunately this didn’t happen, but in Staward Gorge it meant the timber was never felled and subsequently now dominates the landscape.
These conifers cause problems for the wildlife on the site as their thick foliage blocks any natural sunlight from reaching the ground, meaning the woodland flora is not regenerating. This reducing the species that can live there including dormice and birds such as wood warblers and pied flycatchers.