Flowers, trees and wildlife return to barren woodland

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IT’S a woodland restoration project which has been 15 long years in the making.

But now, a decade and a half after the Forestry Commission began an experiment to encourage tree regeneration in the Peak District’s Derwent Valley, by fencing off five acres of previously grazed land above Derwent Reservoir, a “vibrant mixed woodland” has taken root.

The land, part of the Dark Peak Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), was home to the last vestiges of a once-thriving ancient woodland, where native trees such as ash, rowan, oak, alder and birch once covered the valley sides.

But, 15 years ago, all that remained were a few old and bedraggled trees.

Now, owing to the success of the natural regeneration project, flowers such as bluebells and wood violet have also returned to the woodland.

Albin Smith, forester with the Forestry Commission, who began the initiative, said: “About 95 per cent of the trees come from natural regeneration after being seeded by the few older specimens in the area.

“We are thrilled by the scheme’s success.

“Wildlife ranging from small mammals to birds to insects have been boosted and we will also be doing a bird survey this year to further gauge the project’s impact.”