The Longshaw Tree Nursery

There's been some great progress on the tree nursery at Longshaw

Our ranger team are working hard to build a tree nursery at Longshaw to help us look after trees and woodlands in the wider Peak District. Discover more about the project from rangers Lucy and Roz.

At Longshaw the rangers are branching out – a new native tree nursery has been taking shape and will soon be planted up.

Lucy Holmes has been working in the Peak District for 4 years, and Roz Lees has been based out in the High Peak since 2017. The two rangers have taken on the task of raising beds of saplings, from acorns and other seeds into trees big enough to plant out in the harsh landscapes of the Peak District. We caught up with our tree nursery experts to hear more about the project so far....

The tree nursery journey – why is the project happening?

Our woodlands are facing the huge challenges of climate change, disease and habitat destruction. We need our existing woodlands to be healthy and diverse so that they are resilient to these challenges. We also need to create more woodland spaces, link up areas that have been fragmented and improve overall diversity.

Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to recent scientific studies. In the Peak District we want to do our bit to help tackle climate change and other global issues that impact on our native wildlife.

In the UK ash dieback is a real and present threat to the health of our woodlands. By growing many different species of trees to replant in the areas hit hardest by ash dieback, we are helping to protect them for the future.

Our native tree nursery will help us to produce locally grown trees to replant in our places and make our woodlands more resilient and better for wildlife.

Great progress has been made on the tree nursery
Great progress has been made on the tree nursery
Great progress has been made on the tree nursery

Roz: "In the Peak District our Clough Woodland Project is all about planting native broadleaves in some of the cloughs to establish new and expand existing areas of woodland habitat. This new habitat will increase biodiversity of species as part of the High Peak Vision (50 year plan).The project links in well with our High Peak Moors Vision plan, which is all about holding water on the moors, and slowing the flow downstream to reduce the risk of flooding in future storm events. Wooded cloughs will contribute to this with the tree roots absorbing water as well as holding the soil together to prevent erosion. The tree nursery project is a great chance to engage with the public about the work we do Peak District wide, as often the areas we work on are remote so it’s difficult to share the great things we’re doing."

 

What benefits will it bring to Longshaw?

Lucy: “We’ve chosen to plant the tree nursery at Longshaw because it’s somewhere people can easily get to – it has thousands of visitors; from school groups to families and independent adults, who will be able to see the trees as they grow. We want to ask people about woodlands and why they’re important; and for people of all ages to be able to ask us about our major conservation projects across the Peak District. The National Trust is working to plant up 22 sites across the Peak District, which means a lot of trees! If people grow to love trees and the woods, we hope they will also help to look after them – they can do that through joining in our autumn-time seed collecting Muck In Day, helping with our woodland work at winter Muck In Days, or simply donating to the Peak District Appeal online or on site. This support will literally help to grow woods for the future."

Which species of trees are being planted & what wildlife are they are good for?

Mature oaks in parkland and open oak woodland are the perfect habitat for red and amber listed birds such as pied flycatchers, redstarts and wood warblers. These birds migrate from Africa every spring to come and enjoy our open oak woodlands and all the insect life they host.

In the Dark Peak we’re planting a mixture of native broadleaves including birch, rowan, alder, oak, hawthorn, cherry, holly and hazel. Trees which produce flowers such as cherry and hawthorn are great for pollinators and insects, which then provide food for other species like bats and birds. Trees which produce berries are great for birds, and rowan trees tend to grow well up in the cloughs, if you walk around the estate you can see some natural regeneration. We’re planting scrubby species too like hawthorn and holly, these are small trees which provide good shelter for wildlife and livestock once they are established.

The Longshaw tree nursery - growing trees for the future
The Longshaw tree nursery - growing trees for the future
The Longshaw tree nursery - growing trees for the future

Looking towards the future – we’re planting a diverse mix because the risk of climate change means the ranges suitable for some trees will be changing in the future as the climate may get more extreme you can’t be sure what will be surviving well in fifty years’ time. If you have a range of species, it is likely that some will do well even if others do not. It’s not just about the woodlands either, species such as alder which like wetter conditions can play a vital role in shading the streams in the cloughs, this small amount of shade provided by the trees will stabilise the temperature of the streams in the cloughs, so any particularly warm weather should have significantly less impact on the invertebrates and other water life. 

Biosecurity – Also something to think about is the risk of new disease, we have had Dutch elm disease, and now currently suffering with ash dieback. With the imports of more and more plants the likelihood of another disease in the future affecting another species is sadly a strong possibility. To help combat this we will be collecting seeds from the local area and planting into the local area, so our trees won’t have travelled too far, and should be familiar to the weather and soil conditions in the area. We also plan on propogating notable mature trees in the local area to plant back out.

The tree nursery has been created from scratch by our talented rangers
The tree nursery has been created from scratch by our talented rangers
The tree nursery has been created from scratch by our talented rangers

What are you doing to protect the trees from deer/ rabbits?     

The saplings may need protection from squirrels, rabbits and deer. The beds have been surrounded in rabbit netting, and we will be making lids which will protect from all three species while the saplings are in vulnerable stages. We didn’t want to install deer fencing, because we want the nursery to look inviting to our human visitors!

Who will be involved in the tree nursery and how?

We’re looking for new and more diverse volunteers as well as our current faithful groups. For the planting we will be hosting muck in days and school groups for collecting acorns and seeds to plant in the beds. For regular maintenance and watering we will be looking for individuals, families or groups that are interested in helping out. For planting out the trees we will have our regular volunteer groups such as our practical volunteers and our Phoenix Futures rehab group. Tree planting is always an enjoyable task (even in the rain), because you are creating a landscape for the future.

The nursery is on a track close to the cafe and car park and will be accessible for visitors when the project is completed. For more information or to get involved please contact peakdistrict@nationaltrust.org.uk .