Habitat Action Plans
This Habitat Action Plan covers woodland types, upland oak woodland, lowland mixed deciduous woodland and wet woodland. In Calderdale the majority of woodlands fall into the NVC classes W10 and W16, both of which equate to the lowland mixed deciduous woodland national priority habitat.
Both wet woodland and upland oak woodland habitats are rare in Calderdale. The South Pennines are on the fringe of what is classified upland by the UK BAP and, as such, does not have significant areas of NVC classes W11 and W17, Upland Oak Woodland.
Wet woodlands, NVC classes W1 to W7, are similarly rare in Calderdale, although this is largely due to land drainage and agricultural improvements.
The most ecologically important woodlands are listed in the Inventory of Ancient Woodland (IAW), West Yorkshire, and the distribution of these woodlands in Calderdale is shown on Map 1.
Whilst those woodlands listed in IAW will form the priority areas for management, the objectives and actions set out in this plan will also be applied to woodlands not listed, since, whilst they may not have the same ecological value, they can nevertheless still be important habitats.
Similarly, since an important aspect of the Biodiversity Planning process is the creation and expansion of Priority Habitats, this plan also covers newly created woodlands. This can mean both planted woodlands where nature conservation is a primary objective or woodlands created through natural colonisation.
Britain is one of the least wooded countries within Europe. The Inventory of Ancient Woodlands records 2,000,000 ha of woodland nationally of which 534,000 ha are estimated to be ancient. Approximately 302,000 ha of this total can be described as ancient semi-natural woodland, the balance having been made into plantations.
Yorkshire and the Humber have 6.7% of the ancient and natural woodland in England and Wales. The “Biodiversity Audit of Yorkshire and the Humber” estimates that 53% of the region’s woodlands (excluding North Yorkshire) is in a natural condition, with the remainder being having been replanted with crop trees.
The report also highlights the fact that information is patchy. As an example the report identifies the fact that, whilst information relating to ancient woodlands exists, only 16% of the district’s woodlands have been surveyed for NVC.
Little information exists in relation to wet woodland. The “Biodiversity Audit of Yorkshire and the Humber” estimated there to be 343 ha of wet woodland in the region, although the actual amount is likely to be much higher.
Upland oak woodland is also rare in the district, since the region is not strictly an upland area. Small stands of W11 have been surveyed in the Pennines, although again NVC data for the region is patchy and, as a result, the actual figures for this type of woodland are likely to be slightly higher.
Calderdale has approximately 1400 ha of woodland (3.8% woodland cover) of which 660 ha is recorded in the Inventory of Ancient Woodland.
Virtually all of Calderdale’s woodlands can be described as being in an unfavourable condition, consisting mainly of relatively dense even aged stands. A combination of an almost total lack of management in the recent past and a history of stock grazing has seriously degraded many woodlands.
Throughout Calderdale woodlands tend to occur on the steep scarp slopes associated with the district’s deep incised valleys. The majority of the oak clough woodlands have been excessively grazed and many are facing total destruction.
Where management has been undertaken in recent times, this has primarily been related to access improvements with limited silvicultural works being undertaken. Few woodlands have active ecological management plans in place.
Current factors causing loss or decline
- Grazing – domestic stock has been, and continues to be, grazed in many of the district’s woodlands and this has had a detrimental effect on the natural regeneration and floral diversity of many woodlands.
- Invasive species – as well as herbaceous woody species, which can have adverse effects on regeneration, non-indigenous tree species such as sycamore and beech is included in this category.
- Inappropriate management, including lack of management, has resulted in many woodlands having a poor age and species structure.
- Development pressures – Calderdale has a shortage of suitable development land and, as such, pressures on some woodland sites is very high.
- Recreational pressures – a significant number of woodlands in the district are close to large urban populations and are subject to high levels of recreational use. This can potentially be detrimental to the woodland ecosystem.
- Pollution has had a significant impact on growth of trees and associated flora e.g. lichens.
Calderdale Countryside and Forestry Unit has established a number of Forestry Commission Grant Contracts on some areas of publicly owned woodland. These contracts relate largely to access improvement works, although most do include some habitat and silvicultural work.
Calderdale Countryside and Forestry Unit has also been actively pursuing a programme of new woodland planting through Landscape Conservation Grants (1986 – 1990) and the Million Trees Initiative (1991 – present). This has seen the creation of approximately 130 ha of new woodland at 84 sites, consisting largely of native oak and birch species, many grown from seed.
SCOSPA have produced an “Integrated Management Strategy And Conservation Plan for the South Pennines Moors SPA”, which covers the Southern Pennines Natural Area. The plan aims to increase and enhance the key habitats within the SPA and surrounding areas and support the implementation of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Treesponsibility, a local voluntary organisation, have been actively pursuing a planting program targeted primarily on sites in the upper valley area. In the past five years the group have planted 10 ha of new native woodlands.
The England Forestry Strategy produced by the Forestry Commission describes how the Government will deliver its forestry policies as well as setting out the Government’s priorities and programmes for the next ten years. Included within the document are proposals to protect existing woodlands and to use the biodiversity action planning process as a guide to nature conservation.
Some woodlands are protected by TPOs. A Felling Licence is required to fell more than five cubic meters of timber.
The following Calderdale Priority Species are associated with this habitat:
Bats e.g. Noctule, Diptera e.g Manota unifurcata, Solitary wasp e.g. Crossocerus binotatus, Ferns e.g. Narrow Buckler Fern, Plants e.g. Round-Leaved Wintergreen, Wood Cranesbill, Mosses e.g. Dicranodontium denudatum Birds e.g. Woodcock, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Pied Flycatcher, Bullfinch, Willow Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Wood warbler, Song Thrush, Tree Pipit, Green Woodpecker, Stock Dove, Turtle Dove. Fungi e.g. Deathcap, Old Man of the Woods, Ghost Bolete.
- Ensure all native woodland wildlife sites (i.e. SSSIs and SEGIs or equivalent) are maintained in an ecologically favourable condition.
- Restore 5 ha of upland oakwood, 150 ha of lowland mixed deciduous woodland and 5 ha of wet woodland by 2010.
- Create 20ha of upland oakwood, 40 ha of lowland mixed deciduous woodland and 5 ha of wet woodland by 2010.
|1. Policy and Legislation||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|Ensure that UDP policies are in place to protect native woodlands||CMBC (DP)||CMBC (CAFU)|
|Consider the impact on native woodlands when assessing planning applications||CMBC (DC)||CMBC (CAFU)|
|Enforce TPOs as appropriate||CMBC (DC)||CMBC (CAFU), EN|
|Take opportunities through the planning system to restore or create woodlands. Explore possibilities of long term management agreements||CMBC (DC)||CMBC (CAFU)|
|Ensure that the best examples of native woodland are designated as SEGIs or SSSIs||WYE / EN||CMBC (CAFU), CMBC (DP)|
|2. Site safeguard and management||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|With owner / occupiers, draw up ecological management plans for woodlands, targeting ancient woodlands||CMBC (CAFU)||-|
|Implement management plans, targeting ancient woodlands||CMBC (CAFU)||FC, KWC|
|Assist and support applications for grant funding||CMBC (CAFU)||FC, Trees|
|Locate areas adjacent to existing sites of value and assess potential for expansion||CMBC (CAFU)||FC, Trees|
|Create new woodlands through tree planting and natural regeneration. Use trees of local provenance wherever practicable (Prioritise linking fragmented woodland habitats)||CMBC (CAFU)||FC, Trees|
|Restore degraded woodlands||CMBC (CAFU)||FC, Trees|
|Encourage sustainable woodland management eg registration with FSC, using local contractors, coppice crafts etc.||CMBC (CAFU)||FC, KWC, Trees|
|Produce a Calderdale Woodlands Strategy||CMBC (CAFU)||all partners|
|Propagate trees using seeds of local provenance||CMBC (CAFU)||Trees|
|3. Research and monitoring||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|Determine and monitor extent of habitat||CMBC (CAFU)||-|
|Assess ecological condition of wildlife sites||CAFU||Trees|
|Maintain sites database to include information such as ecological condition, NVC type and land ownership||CAFU||WYE|
|4. Advisory||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|Disseminate information on native woodland creation and management to owners / occupiers and policy makers||CMBC (CAFU)||Trees|
|Provide advice on woodland management and grant and certification schemes||CMBC (CAFU)||FC, Trees|
|5. Regional||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|Co-ordinate woodland initiatives at a sub-regional level||WRF||FC, CMBC (CAFU)|
|6. Communication and publicity||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|Establish and support a Calderdale Woodlands Group||CMBC (CAFU)||All partners|
|Raise awareness of the importance of this habitat||CMBC (CAFU)||ATC|
|Key to abbreviations|
|ATC||Alternative Technology Centre|
|CLA||County Landowners and Business Association|
|CMBC (CAFU)||Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council (Countryside and Forestry Unit)|
|CMBC (DC)||Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council (Development Control)|
|CMBC (DP)||Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council (Development and Policy)|
|KWC||Knott Wood Copicers|
|WRF||White Rose Forest|
|WYE||West Yorkshire Ecology|
|YWT||Yorkshire Wildlife Trust|