Cumbria Woodlands has partnered with the Woodland Trust since 2016 to carry out ancient woodland restoration outreach work with owners and managers of woodland. This has been specifically on Plantation on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) and Ancient Semi-Natural Woodlands (ASNW) regarded as in poor condition across Cumbria.
Restoration of ancient woodland is important due to the high value of these woods as reservoirs of biodiversity. Ancient woods face threats from tree pests and diseases and invasive non-native species. They are also affected by inappropriate levels of grazing and browsing by both wild animals and livestock, and inappropriate management or neglect. In Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) these threats are compounded by the impacts of commercial conifer plantations on the sensitive features and ecosystems characteristic of ancient woodland.
Restoration management involves taking steps to improve the condition of ancient woodland in a three-stage approach:
- Halting further decline
- Recovery of the wider ecosystem
- Maximising ecological integrity through long term sustainable management
Before this can begin, the condition of the woodland must be assessed, with a view to improving the condition and increasing restoration.