An ambitious new forestry project will see over half a million trees planted on farmland to the south of Alnwick by landowners Northumberland Estates.
The mixed woodland planting will cover around 660 acres (267 hectares) in total and will create two large new areas of new forestry within a short distance of the town which will be opened up to public access in time.
The first phase of this exciting scheme, which has been designed to incorporate both environmental and commercial goals, has now received grant funding approval with planting due to commence this autumn. This will be on land at Snipe House Farm, Alnwick with a second phase planned for land at Shieldykes Farm at Newton on the Moor will follow with planting work due to be completed in the spring of 2023.
The project has already been three years in the planning according to Head Forester Clint Johnson. “As leading experts in their field, we contracted Scottish Woodlands Ltd to draw up a suitable planting scheme which takes into account all the many aspects of the two sites such as the archaeology, ecology, hydrology and other features. Their remit was to produce a scheme which will not only be commercially productive but will have strong amenity appeal and at the same time create and enhance wildlife habitat. As a result, over 20 per cent of the total acreage will be left unplanted, either to protect important habitat and features, or to improve biodiversity and allow for public access.”
Although benefiting from some grant funding, the project requires significant financial investment by the Estate. Once complete the woods will contain over 520,000 conifers and 48,000 broadleaf trees. In addition over 10,500 metres of deer fencing will be put in place, almost 19,500 metres of drainage dug and over 5,500 metres of new roads constructed to allow access, with much of the stone potentially being taken from the local quarry.
The scheme has been designed with public access in mind. “We are excited to be creating such a large acreage of new woodland close to Alnwick,” says Colin Barnes, Director, “We view the project not just as commercial forestry and tree planting with all the associated environmental benefits relating to climate change but hope we to also create a real community asset. Our vision is to encourage the local community to make use of and enjoy these woods in many ways through educational uses and to improve fitness, health, and mental wellbeing. In time we will actively be looking to work with local groups and charities to achieve these objectives.
“We hope to get children from local schools involved in some of the planting at both site so they can see the project at the start and follow its change over the coming years as the trees grow and mature. ”