The Great Northumberland Forest is a plan to plant millions of trees, creating more wooded landscapes across the county.
A school child's winning picture has been designed into a badge for the Great Northumberland Forest.
Rushy Knowe is a 145 hectare new woodland in Kielder Forest. Forestry England saw the opportunity to use an area of upland hill grazing land and decided to take it back from agricultural use to create new forest. The aim was to create a modern, well-designed, and commercially sustainable area of multi-purpose forest, for the benefit of people, for nature and for the economy.
Watch the You Tube video about Rushy Knowe here (5 mins).
Farmers were mostly interested in planting trees as part of a livestock-tree system, which requires a more solid evidence base around the benefits trees can provide to improve livestock health. For example through providing additional food resources as well as protection from extreme climates.
Additionally, cost-effective methods that need to be put in place to protect the growing trees from livestock as well as wildlife including deer and hares would need to be trialled and explained in training workshops or on specialised demonstration sites for tree restoration on farmed land.
Understanding what farmers need and want is an essential step towards creation of policies for increased tree numbers. Agroforestry can be an integral part of integrated farm management, but the farming community is diverse and need flexible funding and tailored, accessible advice to encourage innovation. Based on their findings, the scientists recommend policy priority actions to increase the adoption of agroforestry:
The first step involves promoting knowledge of the different agroforestry types. The researchers recommend the creation of agroforestry demonstration farms and establishing a regional practitioner group to support farmers.
Second, is the need to integrate relevant government policies and increasing / maintaining funding for agroforestry as part of integrated farm management.
And third, to maximise the benefits of agroforestry, the researchers highlight the need for tailored and easily available advice for farmers using tools that build on current knowledge-exchange practices used by farmers.
There are important considerations in deciding where to site and how to shape new woodlands. These incude impacts on the local community, archaeological or heritage features, landscapes, and impacts on protected habitats or species.
These are best considered on a site-biy-site basis to make sure that any scheme meets the UK Forestry Standard.
Whether the land is owned or tenanted is also an important aspect to consider, but again this is something that can only be done on site.
Woodland design has changed a lot since the monocultures of the past.
The impact on nearby breeding waders, on peat soils and hydrology, on heritage features and on landscape are elements which particularly need a site by site approach. There is a guide to help land managers when peat, vegetation or bird surveys are needed. Specialist surveys may be needed where these features are on or near a proposed tree planting site. Download the 30 page pdf from the gov.uk website.
Even species selection is important. Rather than first selecting a species and then trying to alter the site to suit, there are tools now to help select the species that are most ecologically suited to particular sites. The user only has to input a grid reference and soil type. For example, view the Ecological Site Classification system here (new page).
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