Michael Johnson – Conservation Graduate Trainee
Our National Park hosted a meeting for the Yorkshire Branch of the Royal Forestry Society on 19 May. The on-site meeting on the National Park Authority’s own Levisham Estate looked at previous and ongoing regeneration schemes on semi-natural and plantation woodland and their part in increasing biodiversity and the viability of the local woodland ecosystem* as a whole, including the slowing of run off by planting trees.
We started at the Hole of Horcum discussing the woodland regeneration of the southern slopes and passes where most of the new tree planting has taken place; there was much discussion as to the long term effects that bracken and other plants would invariably have upon the new tree saplings and whether or not differing types of management techniques and also tree guards/fencing would be beneficial in order to protect the growing trees from grazing livestock at this early stage.
The rest of the day was spent at Levisham Woods, where we looked at the various felling and natural regeneration works that had been carried out previously and discussed the long term future of the site. The Royal Forestry Society represents all sorts of interests involved with woodlands – commercial, professional, academic, conservation. The purpose of the Society is to promote active woodland management for the sake of sustainable woodlands rather than represent a single group or single point of view. When it came to Levisham Woods we considered the balance between commercial management of timber and the management of a woodland for public access, biodiversity benefits and its own intangible sense of place.
The discussion wasn’t quite as dramatic as the weather – we dodged hail, rain, thunder and lightning and also enjoyed an odd sunny spell. We all shared ideas and if there was one outstanding lesson it was that there is rarely a right or wrong answer when it comes to land management.
*Ecosystems are a big thing in conservation at the moment – similar to biodiversity but also including none living elements such as water, air, soil – the concept links together the interactions between natural resources and their management which are ultimately essential for humans. For a better explanation see here.