Durham Woodland Revival will bring many benefits. Woodlands need our care and protection to realise their full value: provide rich habitats for wildlife, produce timber and improve quality of life for local people.
Read our latest news to find out what we've been up to and be inspired to get involved.
New community woods project starts (October 2020)A new volunteer, who will be working on a joint project between Durham Woodland Revival and our partner Woodland Trust, has just started in his new role. David Papadopoulos, who has recently moved to the Deerness Valley, has taken on the role of Community Woods Volunteer. David's work will help us gain a deeper understanding of community woods groups in our area and how they operate. His work will also contribute towards Woodland Trust community woods project, through which they aim to create a national network of community woods.
David says, "I aim to get a good idea of what people are doing in woodlands, their aspirations and needs for those places. I hope to become known across the county as a community woodlands champion, supporting people and woodlands in sustainable ways." For the last 10 years David has managed a community garden in Birmingham, with occasional forays into arts, landscape and social inclusion activities. He's had a lifetime of moving between these and other roles in several countries, and enjoys wandering the old industrial and rewilded landscapes.
New Manager joins the team (June 2020)We welcomed Charles Forman to Durham Woodland Revival in May. It was a slightly unusual start in a new job, with a brief socially distanced meeting to receive a laptop and mobile phone. We have been getting to know Charles through team meetings held by video call and are looking forward to being able to chat in person!
Charles says, "I am delighted to be part of the Durham Woodland Revival team, in this exciting and very relevant programme of projects. I started my career working in environmental impact assessment before moving to project and programme management of environmental projects. For the last eight years I have worked on projects related to improving river water quality and habitat for the Environment Agency and latterly the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust. These projects have mostly involved a significant amount of tree planting. It is a very strange time to be starting in a new team, with everything being done remotely but I look forward to meeting many of our partners and supporters when restrictions make that possible."
Mapping out community groups (April 2020)
Our target at the start of this project was to work with five existing community woodland groups and support the establishment of five new ones.
The fantastic news is we have already identified 13 groups working across our area! Nine of these are actively managing their local woodland, whilst four are setting up or there is potential to create a group. We have met with all of these groups except two and have a better understanding of what they do, the woodland they care for and what support we may be able to offer them.
We were very pleased to find so many active groups and amazed to find that they are managing about 65 hectares of woodland! Once the new groups are established this figure could rise to more than 150 hectares. These sites include areas of semi-natural ancient woodlands, conifer plantations and a wide range of other habitats, not just woodland. From orchards and wetlands, to grasslands, scrub and small areas of lowland heath.
We're looking forward to meeting up with all these groups once it is safe to do so again.
Spring tree care (April 2020)
Newly planted trees are vulnerable to damage and death from a number of causes. These include browsing by mammals (deer, rabbits), ring barking by voles and insects, such as the large pine weevil and poor handling at the time of planting where roots are allowed to dry out.
However, the greatest risk comes from other plants, especially grasses, and this accounts for the greatest failure in a new woodland in the first three to five years after planting. Simply planting the tree and placing a shelter on it will not create the best conditions for it to thrive, or even just survive.
Plants compete with each other for water in the soil and light. At only one or two years old, a young tree straight out of a nursery has an under-developed root system; it will probably need a couple of growing seasons to adapt to its new surroundings. In the meantime, grasses and other plants can quickly swamp a young tree and kill it.
Once planted, it is important to safeguard the investment made in young trees. A weed free zone at least one metre diameter should be maintained around each tree, until it is clearly growing above the height of the surrounding vegetation.
Weeds can be controlled with approved herbicides, such as a glyphosate product, or with mulch mats or tree spats. Plants are very effective at recovering from control efforts. Depending on the local habitat type and climate, weeding might be required twice each year for several years.
For more information visit Forest Research: Integrated forest vegetation management - vegetation management.
Funding win will help us restore County Durham Woodlands (June 2019)
We've been awarded £434,200 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to restore and reconnect woodland in the county.
The funding will enable Durham County Council, who are leading our project, to work with partners Woodland Trust, Northwoods, Wear Rivers Trust and the Forestry Commission to bring neglected and under-managed woodland back into good condition and to boost woodland cover over a four-year period, starting this summer.
Focusing on 5,000 hectares of woodland within a 10-mile radius from Durham City, our project will look at different ways of managing a range of woodlands, from the diverse ecosystems of ancient woodland to the conifer plantations established for the mining industry, now a source of timber and fuel.
Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Local Partnerships, said: "We are thrilled to have been awarded The National Lottery Heritage funding. Woodlands are a fantastic potential resource for communities but unfortunately, woodland cover in some areas of our county is low and almost half of what we do have is undermanaged.
This funding will play an essential part in allowing us to bring woodland back into management and for us to maximise the major benefits that woodland can offer, from making positive contributions to people's mental and physical health to wildlife conservation and timber production."
Sian Atkinson, The Woodland Trust's Senior Outreach Manager for the north of England, said: "We are delighted that The National Lottery Heritage Fund are supporting Durham Woodland Revival. The council and Woodland Trust have worked in partnership over a number of years to create new woods across the county for people and wildlife, and this funding will enable us to step up a gear and build on this, creating new and better habitats for wildlife and creating a deeper connection between communities and their local woods."
"Many of County Durham's woodlands are close to towns and villages and the Durham Woodland Revival Project will encourage residents to enjoy a greater role in their management, offering opportunities for individuals and groups to learn about them, enjoy them and influence their use."
We will also be offering local landowners training, support and advice through the project. We are keen to promote joint working, particularly on sites close to council-owned woodland.