Habitat Action Plans

Native woodland


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.

Current status


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.

Outline map of Calderdale showing distribution of 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

Current action

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.

Legal status

Some woodlands are protected by TPOs. A Felling Licence is required to fell more than five cubic meters of timber.

Priority species

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.


1. Policy and LegislationLead PartnerOther partners
Ensure that UDP policies are in place to protect native woodlandsCMBC (DP)CMBC (CAFU)
Consider the impact on native woodlands when assessing planning applicationsCMBC (DC)CMBC (CAFU)
Enforce TPOs as appropriateCMBC (DC)CMBC (CAFU), EN
Take opportunities through the planning system to restore or create woodlands. Explore possibilities of long term management agreementsCMBC (DC)CMBC (CAFU)
Ensure that the best examples of native woodland are designated as SEGIs or SSSIsWYE / ENCMBC (CAFU), CMBC (DP)
2. Site safeguard and managementLead PartnerOther partners
With owner / occupiers, draw up ecological management plans for woodlands, targeting ancient woodlandsCMBC (CAFU)-
Implement management plans, targeting ancient woodlandsCMBC (CAFU)FC, KWC
Assist and support applications for grant fundingCMBC (CAFU)FC, Trees
Locate areas adjacent to existing sites of value and assess potential for expansionCMBC (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 woodlandsCMBC (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 StrategyCMBC (CAFU)all partners
Propagate trees using seeds of local provenanceCMBC (CAFU)Trees
3. Research and monitoringLead PartnerOther partners
Determine and monitor extent of habitatCMBC (CAFU)-
Assess ecological condition of wildlife sitesCAFUTrees
Maintain sites database to include information such as ecological condition, NVC type and land ownershipCAFUWYE
4. AdvisoryLead PartnerOther partners
Disseminate information on native woodland creation and management to owners / occupiers and policy makersCMBC (CAFU)Trees
Provide advice on woodland management and grant and certification schemesCMBC (CAFU)FC, Trees
5. RegionalLead PartnerOther partners
Co-ordinate woodland initiatives at a sub-regional levelWRFFC, CMBC (CAFU)
6. Communication and publicityLead PartnerOther partners
Establish and support a Calderdale Woodlands GroupCMBC (CAFU)All partners
Raise awareness of the importance of this habitatCMBC (CAFU)ATC

Key to abbreviations
ATCAlternative Technology Centre
BWBritish Waterways
CFCalder Future
CLACounty 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)
ENEnglish Nature
FCForestry Commission
KWCKnott Wood Copicers
WRFWhite Rose Forest
WYEWest Yorkshire Ecology
YWTYorkshire Wildlife Trust

Last Updated: 03/10/2016