Shedden Clough near Hurstwood has had a lot of tree planting that also includes the open moorlands. Most of this was done as part of the now defunct “Forest of Burnley” scheme.  Some trees lower down the valley sides may create a good effect but I do wonder what they are trying to achieve when saplings are planted on the moorland, especially as there are many Small Heath butterfly and quite a few Skylarks. Many of these saplings  are looking distinctly unhappy and will not survive. I am sure that wasn’t the intention although it could be seen as a good outcome.

Within Shedden Clough there is a lot of Rhododendron that is spreading quickly. Some of this Rhodo was cleared about 10 years ago. As the photo shows, the resultant bare soil has created a great opportunity for a forest of self-seeded Birch. Note how this Birch has established without the assistance of tree tubes and stakes; perhaps it prefers to do what it knows best, which is grow.

Of the planted saplings, Hawthorn and Willow seem to be doing well. If these were planted as a kind of first wash on the landscape canvas, niches would be created for trees to arrive naturally and create a more structured woodland over time.

Instant woodland is fostered by the grant schemes and impatience but the question has to be asked—what will be the result?

The prospect of the “Great Northern Forest” sounds appealing but if it is like many other planted schemes that are done and then forgotten, the results may be the opposite of what is wished for. 

Anyone who is interested in how successful landscapes can be created, that work for all species, should ‘Google’ Knepp Wildland and watch the 15 min video. It is a revelation how such a landscape can evolve from a previous intensively farmed one.


                                      Natural Birch regeneration after Rhododendron removal

                                    Rhododendron invasion which needs removing

                            Tree planting on moorland–but what about the habitat?

                                        Tree planting at Clough Foot, Todmorden
                                       Nearly 5,000 trees and tubes–some effort