About Our Woodland

An example of clough woodland located predominately along the steep slopes of valleys (cloughs) across the South Pennines

Only 4% of the 1,555km² land cover of the South Pennines is wooded, and of that area only a quarter is recognised as ‘Ancient Woodland’.  Trees and woodland classed as ‘ancient’ or ‘veteran’ are irreplaceable.  Ancient  woodland takes hundreds of years to establish and is considered important for its wildlife, soils, recreation, cultural value, history and landscapes.

Ancient woodland‘ is any area that has been wooded continuously since at least 1600 AD. It includes: 

‘Ancient semi-natural woodland’ – mainly made up of trees and shrubs native to the site, usually arising from natural regeneration.

‘Plantations on ancient woodland sites’  -­ areas of ancient woodland where the former native tree cover has been felled and replaced by planted trees, usually of species not native to the site.  Natural England (2017)

The South Pennines and the distribution of woodland across the region. Copyright Pennine Prospects

Wood and therefore woodlands have played an important role in human history, not only were they places where humans could hunt for food, but they also provided the raw materials for building and industry.  Whether this was for the construction of houses, the making and provision of household wares (such as chairs, bowels, spoons and bedding material etc) or for the production of charcoal, used in the processes of iron working, woodlands have played an important role throughout history.

Unlike farmland which may have been subject to continual ploughing activity, woodland and woodland management has been generally less  destructive.  As a result, woodlands can preserve evidence of past human activity dating from early human settlers through to the First World War and present day.

Woodlands are rich for their ecology and many support and preserve distinctive animals and plants relating to the original ‘wild wood’.  In the South Pennines woodlands are relatively small in size and include the locally distinctive oak clough woodland in sheltered upland valleys or ‘cloughs‘. Whilst woodland cover may be low and fragmented, around 50% of woodland is either publicly owned or fully accessible to the public, making this a resource that members of the public can freely access and a unique opportunity to engage groups in the natural environment.