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The woodland action group


This group was formed through the Rural Renaissance Initiative, as a project which had many crosscutting themes. The ATC brought the group together to help identify the potential for biomass opportunities in the area whilst ensuring that all parties work to a common plan. The following draft plan has been put together by the group.





At present, in Calderdale the majority of woodlands fall into the NVC classes W10 and W16, both of which equate to the lowland mixed deciduous woodland national priority habitat.

Both wet woodland and upland oak woodland habitats are rare in Calderdale. The South Pennines are on the fringe of what is classified upland by the UK BAP  and, as such, does not have significant areas of NVC classes W11 and W17, Upland Oak Woodland.

Wet woodlands, NVC classes W1 to W7, are similarly rare in Calderdale, although this is largely due to land drainage and agricultural improvements.

The most ecologically important woodlands are listed in the Inventory of Ancient Woodland (IAW), West Yorkshire, and the distribution of these woodlands in Calderdale is shown on Map 1


Calderdale has approximately 1400 ha of woodland (3.8% woodland cover) of which 660 ha is recorded in the Inventory of Ancient Woodland.

Virtually all of Calderdale’s woodlands can be described as being in an unfavourable condition, consisting mainly of relatively dense even aged stands. A combination of an almost total lack of management in the recent past and a history of stock grazing has seriously degraded many woodlands.

Throughout Calderdale, woodlands tend to occur on the steep scarp slopes associated with the district’s deep incised valleys.  The majority of the oak clough woodlands have been excessively grazed and many are facing total destruction.

Where management has been undertaken in recent times, this has primarily been related to access improvements with limited silvicultural works being undertaken. Few woodlands have active ecological management plans in place.

Current Factors Causing Loss Or Decline

        Grazing – domestic stock has been, and continues to be, grazed in many of the district’s woodlands and this has had a detrimental effect on the natural regeneration and floral diversity of many woodlands.

        Invasive species – as well as herbaceous woody species, which can have adverse effects on regeneration, non-indigenous tree species such as sycamore and beech is included in this category.

        Inappropriate management, including lack of management, has resulted in many woodlands having a poor age and species structure.

        Development pressures – Calderdale has a shortage of suitable development land and, as such, pressures on some woodland sites is very high.

        Recreational pressures – a significant number of woodlands in the district are close to large urban populations and are subject to high levels of recreational use. This can potentially be detrimental to the woodland ecosystem.

        Past pollution has had a significant impact on growth of trees and associated flora e.g. lichens.


Current Action

Calderdale Countryside and Forestry Unit has established a number of Forestry Commission Grant Contracts on some areas of publicly owned woodland. These contracts relate largely to access improvement works, although most do include some habitat and silvicultural work.

Calderdale Countryside and Forestry Unit has also been actively pursuing a programme of new woodland planting through Landscape Conservation Grants (1986 – 1990) and the Million Trees Initiative (1991 – present). This has seen the creation of approximately 130 ha of new woodland at 84 sites, consisting largely of native oak and birch species, many grown from seed. 

SCOSPA have produced an “Integrated Management Strategy And Conservation Plan for the South Pennines Moors SPA”, which covers the Southern Pennines Natural Area. The plan aims to increase and enhance the key habitats within the SPA and surrounding areas and support the implementation of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Treesponsibility, a local voluntary organisation, have been actively pursuing a planting program targeted primarily on sites in the upper valley area. In the past five years the group have planted 10 ha of new native woodlands.

The England Forestry Strategy produced by the Forestry Commission describes how the Government will deliver its forestry policies as well as setting out the Government’s priorities and programmes for the next ten years. Included within the document are proposals to protect existing woodlands and to use the biodiversity action planning process as a guide to nature conservation.




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