Kielderhead Wildwood

One of the wildest landscapes in England, and the last English stronghold for Scot’s pine 

Wildwood Heinz Traut

At a glance

Location

Kielder, Northumberland

Area

102 hectares

Start date

2015

Scale

Medium

Habitats

Upland, Mixed woodland and Wetlands (including peatlands and marsh)

Key species

Water vole and Scot's Pine

Rewilding actions

Habitat restoration, Tree Planting, Grazing exclusion/control and Natural regeneration

Engaging people

Volunteering, Recreation and Education programme

Kielderhead Wildwood is an ambitious partnership project led by Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Forestry England to restore natural processes and rebuild healthy ecosystems for carbon storage, water quality and for wildlife. The vision of the project is to restore one of the wildest landscapes in England at Kielderhead and promote opportunities for people to come closer to Kielder’s rare wildlife such as golden eagle, pine marten and black grouse.

The wildwood landscape has an ancient past – it is possibly the only site in England containing original native Scots pine trees (the William’s Cleugh pines). It contains remnant native upland pine habitat, unique to England, which would have thrived in prehistoric times. The interventions on site include collecting local seed to grow trees saplings for the planting strategy.

Education is important, and the project aims to give members of the public the opportunities to learn about natural heritage and to experience wilderness. Many of the tree planting works are undertaken by volunteers, who learn new skills. It is also open access land, with a self-guided walk and geocaches available, inviting members of the public to come and experience the wild landscape.

Water voles were reintroduced to the site in 2016 as part of the wider Kielder reintroduction. A small number of individuals were captured from the North Pennines, the Trossachs in Scotland and the North York moors, and then used for captive breeding to produce enough animals to release.

KICK-STARTING REWILDING

Prior to the Kielderhead Wildwood project commencing, the area was cleared of self-seeded spruce trees and drains blocked to restore the natural water table. Native tree species were then allowed to regenerate naturally, supplemented with native tree planting using local seed stock. A total of 21,000 trees have been planted so far out of a planned 35,000. The site is so remote that helicopters have been used in some places to deliver tree planting materials. Feral goats on site have also been fenced out and in some cases controlled as part of a management plan, allowing vegetation to regenerate and thrive.

Images: Kielder Wildwood 

Wildwood Panorama
View from the top of Williams Cleugh Scots pine looking down towards Wil

Future Plans

  1. 1 Continue monitoring birds, vegetation, bryophytes and reptiles on the site, as well as environmental conditions
  2. 2 Continue to monitor feral goat populations and conduct impact assessments
  3. 3 Vision to expand to a larger area covering over 1000 acres of Kielderhead.

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