Lakes park set for wildlife boom as beeches get the boot
RED SQUIRRELS will be among the wildlife raising a cheer as a massive beech tree extraction project gets underway in a forest near Ambleside this winter.
Scene of the full-on felling exercise are the 130-acres grounds of Skelwith Fold caravan park where too many beeches are blighting the lives of woodland creatures.
Working in co-operation with the Forestry Commission, the park’s Henry Wild says that their reprieve will be taking place over the coming months.
The problem, says Henry, is that the dense canopy of the beech tree casts a dark shadow on the forest floor and produces a dense carpet of fallen leaves and seed husks.
This prevents most other woodland plants from growing – many of them the type of species which can provide food and habitats for a wealth of wildlife.
But according to Henry, the extracted trees – some more than a century old – will be embarking on a new afterlife once they have been removed from the woodlands.
That’s because the park will be up-cycling the timber for a wide range of practical purposes including planters, fencing, construction and the crafting of furniture using traditional carpentry skills.
Many of the tables, chairs and other items will find a new home in some of the recently renovated holiday properties on the park.
Henry intends to find a good use for virtually every last splinter. Even smaller branches will be put to work in compost piles as habitats for beneficial insects, and the chippings used as mulch.
“It might seem a bit incongruous to go about felling trees as a way of giving nature a helping hand, but in this instance that’s exactly what the outcome will be,” he said.
“Once the beech trees have been removed, we should see the forest floor begin to bristle with many new plants including shrubs, wild flowers and hardwood saplings.
“It will give our bio-diversity a fantastic boost, and our ground team is looking forward to the challenge of seeing how many ways the beech timber can be given a new lease of life.
“We’re also very excited about another idea for encouraging wildlife we are exploring with the forestry officer, and which is likely to be a first for this area, ” added Henry.
The felling has coincided with Skelwith Fold’s winter wildlife feeding programme which helps its red squirrels maintain their energy levels in the colder months.
The park uses a special seed blend containing oil of anise which acts as a magnet for red squirrels.
This year, Skelwith Fold’s commitment to the natural world has once again earned it the prestigious David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level.
The park was also crowned last year as Lakeland’s top holiday park in the Cumbria Tourism Awards when it took the overall top spot in the competition.
Skelwith Fold provides luxury glamping pods, safari tents, holiday homes to own, and touring pitches for touring caravans and motorhomes.