Calderdale Council Countryside & Woodlands Team: managing trees and moorland

TreesThe team manage 770 hectares of woodland (with other organisations) to make sure that this important environment is conserved and enhanced. We have pockets of ancient woodland, European designated moorland areas and hectares of open access land. Our natural environment also stores carbon in trees and in the peat moorland and can provide power from wood, water and wind. One of our biggest challenges over the next few years is develop this without having a negative impact on the environment. This story is about using Council owned wood resources to their full potential.

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Management does include some planned and selective felling within woodlands. Only a very small amount of this is sold on as wood fuel a majority is either used on site or chipped for mulch. The Council has a resource here that could be used better and that is what we’re going to pledge to do. But we must put this in perspective; we do not have enough wood resource for big scale energy projects and it certainly doesn’t mean that we would clear fell Calderdale’s woodlands! Calderdale’s woodlands are important for biodiversity with several being listed as ancient semi natural woodlands and/or designated local sites and local nature reserves. So any extraction is planned taking in to account the nature of the woodland and surrounding area. But what we can do is develop our wood resource taking into account possible uses be this for energy, crafts and / or a valuable home for wildlife.

In some of our woodlands, notably North Dean we’ve been working with Black Bark to return coppicing to a part of the wood. Although initially the area can look stark it benefits ground flora by allowing light to the woodland floor and some bird species, which favour shrubby regrowth.  It also allows older trees to develop to maturity and have a chance of reaching veteran status.

The wood from this coppice creation has been used as part of the Black Bark firebox scheme and to build fascines to help mitigate soil erosion on steep sided river banks. Working with other organisations with specialist skills can help us develop our woodlands to benefit the environment, people and to be an economic resource.

Some next steps

  • Work with organisations to develop woodland management techniques to make best use of our wood resource
  • Develop a process for drying and selling wood (including urban trees) for wood fuel and other markets.
  • Make the best use of Industry Grants to conserve and utilise our woodlands