Wildlife expert stresses the value of Kielder Forest

A NORTH EAST wildlife chief has championed one of the region's woodlands in front of a group of government inspectors.

A NORTH EAST wildlife chief has championed one of the region's woodlands in front of a group of government inspectors.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust chief executive Mike Pratt was invited to talk to the Forestry Review Panel as they visited Kielder Forest.

Earlier this year there was a public furore when the Government announced plans to sell off the nation’s woods. Minister Caroline Spelman MP had to admit she had got it wrong and shelve the proposals.

But now a team from Westminster have been touring the country to find out more about why the forests are so important both to the British people, the economy and wildlife.

“I emphasised that Kielder is a great example of multi-purpose forest management, where commercial and profitable forestry go hand in hand with conservation management,” said Mr Pratt.

“We can see that in the restoration of 8000ha of border mires, the management of Kielderhead national nature reserve, Bakethin nature reserve and the overall richness of wildlife habitats found across the forest. The range of species illustrates this very well.

“We have nesting ospreys, it is the biggest and most important area for red squirrels in England, rare butterflies, like the small pearl bordered fritillary and large heath, benefit from sensitive forest management and there is long-term monitoring of species like tawny owls, bats, amphibians and reptiles, all of which are taken care of as an integral part of the forest.”

Northumberland Wildlife Trust said it had been worrying that many areas, such as Kielder, were being looked at as simply either commercial plantations with no biodiversity value or woodlands of biodiversity importance.

It is the trust’s view that all are important for reasons of connectivity and for the wildlife they hold, with pine martens, for example, only rediscovered in the Kidland Forest last year.

“Perhaps the most important point is that Kielder is managed in partnership,” said Mr Pratt.

“It is led by the Forestry Commission and it is looked after as a true living landscape, one cohesive natural area, under public ownership.”

 
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