Forestry Commission grants £130,000 for North Pennines woodland scheme

The Forestry Commission has pledged £130,000 to Cumbrian farmer Paul Stobbart for a plan which will help black grouse by establishing a new native woodland at Renwick Fell, near Hartside.

The endangered bird is one of England’s rarest and 80 per cent of the national population is concentrated in the North Pennines ANOB.

Two steep ghylls on 200 hectare Scale House Farm will be planted with 16,000 trees including oak, birch and rowan, with higher levels nurtured as more scrubby woodland favoured by black grouse.

The trees will also help bind the soil and combat erosion, while also slowing the rate of rainwater run-off and the amount of sediment entering watercourses.

Because it helps meet key water quality objectives the Renwick Fell project has been awarded the top rate of grant of £4,800 per hectare by the Forestry Commission under an initiative to support such planting in targeted zones, which include parts of Cumbria.

Jim O’Neill, woodland officer with the Forestry Commission, said: "The North Pennines has very low levels of native woodland cover so a scheme of this size makes a real impact.

"Creating woodlands brings multiple benefits and nowhere is this better illustrated than this scheme on Renwick Fell, which is good for the wider landscape by preventing erosion and with added dividends for wildlife."

Stobbart added: "We don’t have any woodland on the farm so I’m keen to get the trees planted this winter. But there is a much bigger picture."

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