Peak District appeal to provide ‘woods for the future’

National Trust project officer for the High Peak Tom Harman checking growth on an oak tree above Howden reservoir. Photo: David Bocking.
National Trust project officer for the High Peak Tom Harman checking growth on an oak tree above Howden reservoir. Photo: David Bocking.

Lovers of the Peak District are being asked to help the National Trust charity provide ‘woods for the future’.

This month the charity launches its ‘Peak District Appeal’ which aims to raise £50,000 to help plant and maintain trees and woodlands, and to help set up a native tree nursery at Longshaw, where young British broad leaf species will be grown from local seeds.

National Trust ranger Chris Lockyer checking sapling guards at North Nether Grain near the Snake Pass. Photo: David Bocking.

National Trust ranger Chris Lockyer checking sapling guards at North Nether Grain near the Snake Pass. Photo: David Bocking.

The trees of the Peak District really need our help, said National Trust project officer for the High Peak, Tom Harman.

“The woodlands around Dovedale are under threat from Ash Dieback disease, while in the High Peak we’re trying to plant more trees to bring back the upland clough woodlands that would have been here centuries ago,” he said.

In Dovedale and the White Peak, the plan is to encourage a wider range of tree species to return to the area’s ravine woodlands.

“And in the High Peak, over the coming decades, we hope you’ll see more and more native species like oak, birch, holly, hawthorn, rowan, aspen and alder spreading up the valleys and into the steep cloughs below the moors,” Tom said.

There are already examples near the Howden and Derwent Reservoirs where areas were fenced off in the past to prevent sheep eating young trees. Now little woods are thriving on the valley sides, with recovering wildflowers like foxgloves and even bluebells growing among the young trees.

Retired National Trust ranger Bob James was part of the team helping woodlands get established in the Derwent valley in the 1980s, and says he hopes people who marvel at such a landscape on their doorstep will “try to protect it for future generations.”

“It’s absolutely tremendous to see these woods here now, and it’s very humbling to think that you’ve been part of it,” he added.

Small woods and hillside shrubs on the moorland edges will encourage insects like butterflies and bumblebees, said ecologist Chris Wood, along with birds like ring ouzels, pied flycatchers, nightjars and maybe even the rare black grouse. And trees growing along moorland streams should also increase fish species and provide homes for scarce water voles.

There’ll be an online donation facility and there’ll be events throughout the year, starting locally with a ‘coppice day’ at Longshaw on the February 18, with woodland arts and craft demonstrations.

Tom said a donation of £10 would pay for a new tree sapling, sheep guard and stake, but would also lead to a whole family of trees over time.

“When the conditions are right, a young tree will set seed and you could see over a dozen trees growing in the future from one sapling,” he said.

“With public support, these woodlands and their wildlife can be protected and thrive.”

For more information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/PeakDistrictAppeal.