Tree “thinning” on 100 hectares of Washburn Valley

Work is underway to remove some trees from the woodlands in the Washburn Valley. We carry out the work every ten years to maintain the diversity of the woodland and make sure enough light is getting to the forest floor so species such as bluebells can still thrive. 

The work will take place in the woodlands around Swinsty and Fewston Reservoirs, near Harrogate, which are visited by around 250,000 people every year. 

Geoff Lomas, catchment and recreation manager for Yorkshire Water, said: “The woodlands of the Washburn Valley contain both ever green and broad leaf trees. We are working on the areas of broad leaf trees, which are mainly native trees such as beech, oak, holly and rowan with some other species like sycamore. 

“This work will effectively weed out some of the smaller and weaker trees to make room for others to grow bigger and stronger, allowing them to produce quality seeds and naturally regenerate the woodland. 

“If forests have too many trees light doesn’t get down to the forest floor, meaning plants like the bluebell, our national treasure, cannot thrive. We don’t want to rob people of this brilliant annual display so we carefully manage all of our woodland to make sure bluebells and other plants on the woodland floor can thrive among the trees.      
“This kind of work is also good for creating resilience in the woodland eco-system.  As our climate and weather patterns change there is a need to make sure we have a good mix of types of trees in our woodland as well as differing ages. This will help maintain a woodland in the landscape should any of the species become affected by disease like ash die-back, which could kill a high percentage of this species. It means we create a more sustainable woodland.”     

Around 100 hectares of 500 hectares of woodland will be “thinned” with contractors working in the area from June until next spring. The project is part of a rolling programme of management on our land. We are one of the region’s largest landowners, owning 28,000 hectares of land across Yorkshire. 

The timber produced as a result of the trees being felled in the thinning program will be sold for furniture-making, fencing, gates and fire wood.

All our woodland management meets international standards, and is independently audited to meet the UK Woodland Assurance Standard.

We ask that visitors to the reservoir observe the safety signs while the work is underway and stick to the marked pathways and cycle routes.