Council’s Climate Emergency Team visits newly created woodland

Cheshire West and Chester Council have planted an Oak and long-lived broadleaf woodland on a 10-hectare, Council owned site, near Barrow, this winter.

Image of field with mature trees in background and newly planted trees in foreground
After a rather wet winter and spring, the Council’s Climate Change Team visited the newly planted site in early May to see the work that has been completed already and hear about the plans to create a mosaic of habitats on this site.

Howard Pimborough, Woodland Creation Projects Delivery Officer for the Council, explains why the site had been chosen and more about the design of the new woodland here.

'This was low value agricultural land that is seasonally wet, so tree species selection was essential to its successful establishment. Equally the wood needs to be resilient against climate change, future pests and diseases, and help in reducing local surface water flooding. In the design phase the project was computer modelled using Forestry Commission software, to ensure its long-term survival.

The woodland was created utilising innovative techniques to maximise its potential, not only to meet the requirements of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)*, but to also create a mosaic of different habitats (essential for any good woodland design). Old ponds were restored, and new ones created with edges sown with wildflowers. Open spaces managed as woodland meadow are included in the design providing space for natural regeneration of existing mature trees, which border the fields.

An example of the types of innovation on the site was the translocation of early mature Crack and Goat Willow. Basically, removing early mature trees choking and shading out an existing pond, pollarding** them, and replanting in a more desirable location. This way the woodland has two ages of trees, not just young ones (or, even three ages of trees if we count the old Oak in the hedgerows).

Image of tree stump with new shoots coming through. More mature tree in background of shot.One of the mature trees that has been moved to a more desirable location on the site

One of the reasons this site was selected to establish a new woodland on was because of the existing specie rich woodland adjacent to it. This should speed up the new woodland’s potential for wildlife as ground flora, fungi and other species now have room to spread and increase, bringing benefits to the quality of both the old and new woodland.

We’ve also left standing deadwood and deliberately splinted timber and old root plates placed across the site to replicate the result of a storm, which will provide ideal habitat for invertebrates. Coronet cutting*** techniques have also been used on declining trees to increase their potential for bats and stag beetle.

If the gauge of success is how quickly wildlife occupies the site, then early indications are very positive, with wild geese and waterfowl using the restored open water. Meadow buttercup and Cuckoo Flower is visible in the open grassland and there has been an increased presence of bees and butterflies In the future we intend to place Beehives on the site to improve pollination and support our native Honey Bees, who are very much under pressure. This site is perfect for them.

Image of pond with mature trees reflecting in the waterOne of the ponds that has been restored

Forestry is a long-term investment, and it is vital that there is a sustainable revenue stream that supports this project and others without impacting the Council budget. To that end, the woodland needs to be commercially viable, that is producing high quality hardwoods and other forest products for the future, this is why the woodland is divided into identifiable stands of trees and a long-term management plan in place. Using continuous cover forestry, enables us to harvest on a sustainable, rotational basis, provide employment and it also helps in creating a diverse woodland structure.

Equally we have the value of ‘home grown’ Carbon Sequestration and BNG units (to meet changes in the Town and Country Planning act). Without Carbon Units and BNG units created ‘in County’, the Council would need to purchase elsewhere (costing far more and without any local benefit), impacting the Council’s Net Zero aims and restricting development. Most importantly, if the land has no value, who will value and preserve it?

From the outset, this has been a cross department co-operative effort between the Council’s Total Environment team and the Climate Change Team. It was really important to get both teams involved in its establishment, with Total Environment and The Climate Change team helping to plant trees and sow wildflower seed. Being part of helping nature, on a project that will outlast us all, and being amongst our natural environment is fantastic for mindfulness and well-being. In future projects perhaps we can get all our departments to come along and join us on this and other innovative, ambitious, projects. It is without doubt, a way of providing a most satisfying and worthwhile gift to future generations and their sustainability.'

Image of people sowing wildflower seeds around the edge of a pondThe Climate Change Team helping to sow wildflowers

This work is contributing to the Council’s Land Action Plan and Climate Emergency Response Plan, helping the borough to become carbon neutral by 2045 and the Council, as an organisation, by 2030. Every tree planted in the borough is also helping to grow the Mersey Forest and the wider Northern Forest, helping to connect more of our communities with nature.

Find out more about our response to the Climate and Nature Emergency: Home | Climate Response (

You can share what action you are taking to reduce your own carbon footprint over on the Climate Emergency Inspire page.

*Biodiversity Net Gain is the term used to describe the process of increasing the overall biodiversity value of a development site.

**Pollarding is a method of pruning that keeps trees and shrubs smaller than they would naturally grow.

***Coronet cutting is a pruning technique that mimics the way natural tears and fractured branches occur on stem wood and branches.

Share Council’s Climate Emergency Team visits newly created woodland on Facebook Share Council’s Climate Emergency Team visits newly created woodland on Twitter Share Council’s Climate Emergency Team visits newly created woodland on Linkedin Email Council’s Climate Emergency Team visits newly created woodland link
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing:">Load Comment Text</span>