Sheffield woodland and forest management programme supports local wildlife and builds in resilience in the face of increasing threats to trees and climate change

As part of the Heritage Funded Sheffield Lakeland partnership the woodland team at Sheffield City Council are tackling the legacy of unproductive conifer plantations by clear felling and replanting with species of tree that will result in a richer and more resilient woodland landscape.

Working with Yorkshire Water and Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, Sheffield Council is coordinating a four year programme of forestry work to remove or modify conifer plantations which are uneconomic, replanting them with a range of broadleaf tree species which will benefit wildlife.

The first phase of the restoration works is underway in the Morehall area of the Ewden Valley where planting and fencing is being carried out in the coming months.

Phase two involves forestry operations around the Agden and Dale Dike area above Bradfield, including Dow House Plantation, Eleven Acre Plantation and Agden House Wood. Work is scheduled to start in the next two weeks.

Due to the sensitivities of Agden House Wood a technique called sky-lining will be in operation which allows the trees to be taken out on overhead wires with less damage to the woodland floor. Restoration will take place the following winter.

Dave Aspinall, Sheffield City Council’s Countryside Service Manager said: “Our woodlands play an extremely important role in Sheffield’s and surrounding areas’ landscape and wildlife. It’s essential that we maintain our woodlands and forests so that they continue to thrive and this includes replacement and restoration with resilient species of trees that can withstand new threats from pests and diseases.

“We carefully plan works to make sure the right techniques are used so that we keep people safe and enhance our forests and minimise the impact on wildlife.

“These are potentially dangerous operations and the appropriate closures of public rights of way and highways are required to keep the public safe. We ask people to respect and adhere to these while these important works take place.”

Keith Tomkins, Sheffield Lakeland Partnership Manager said

“This important work will go a long way to supporting wildlife in the Sheffield Lakeland Landscape area, including species highlighted in the Landscape Conservation Action Plan, such as willow tit and goshawk but other bird species like fly catcher will benefit from the works. But by no means will all the conifers disappear; where the landscape is enhanced by conifers they will be retained and managed in such a way as to improve the habitat for wildlife and people including planting broadleaved buffers around the edges and along water courses. In addition it must be recognised that forestry is an important revenue source, earning money which is used to manage the rest of the woodlands around Sheffield. Where these plantations are retained the partnership is working together to plan future forestry operations so there will always be suitable habitat for birds like nightjars which favour clear felled areas.”

Sheffield City Council, Yorkshire Water and Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust are working towards a joint vision of woodland and forest management and hope to involve other woodland owners in time. This project is part of the Sheffield Lakeland Landscape Partnership, made possible by funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.