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Pecket Well Clough destruction

From June Eaton

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

We are told that the National Trust has started work today, Monday 4th January, cutting down many of the big beech trees along Pecket Well Clough, as part of their woodland management scheme whereby they have also taken down a lot of mature trees along Crimsworth Dean and in Hardcastle Crags between Gibson Mill and Blake Dean.  There is nothing wrong with the beech trees, they are just reducing their numbers in order to get a more diverse woodland. The beech trees are beautiful and it would be very sad to see them go. It also seems perverse in a time when we need to have more trees to reduce CO2 that they would take down those magnificent trees in order to grow different species, which will take decades to mature. Why not add instead of replace? Surely the beech trees are much better than no trees?

We understand that Slow the Flow supports this work, and there is a logical case to be made for it, but we are bemused by the decision and would like to see consultation with residents of Wadsworth who walk daily in the Clough.

We would also like to know what the view of Treesponsibility is, who have worked so hard to plant many thousands of trees in the Calder Valley (including around a hundred on our land in 2000).

You can write to the National Trust to object (hardcastlecrags@nationaltrust.org.uk) or phone them on 01422 841020. 

June and Jon, Crimsworth, Pecket Well.

From Sue Fenton

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

The work has been stopped after complaints from Midgehole residents. I have been assured that we will be more involved in such decisions in the future.

From Jon Kimber

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

This morning I met with Craig Best, Countryside Manager, and others from The National Trust, in Pecket Well Clough to discuss the woodland work in the Clough. I was particularly concerned about the wonderful avenue of beech trees adjacent to the path below Kitling Bridge being felled.

Following our discussions I am pleased to say that Craig Best has committed to retaining that avenue of beech trees and postponing any other tree felling work in Pecket Well Clough until Wadsworth Parish Council and local residents have been consulted further. To that end I have invited Craig to the next Wadsworth Parish Council meeting on zoom to explain the National Trust's proposals.

The National Trust are clearly planning to follow through on their woodland management plan, and I accept that there does need to be woodland management to sustain the woods but I cannot accept that the Trust have consulted fully as not even the Parish Council was involved. 
Wadsworth Parish Council meetings (on zoom) are open to the public.

From Tim B

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

I understand the beech trees in Joan Wood and Common Bank Wood, central Hebden, are also marked for felling.

From Jade H

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

The trees in Joan woods were due to be felled, and we were promised by the council (in person) that local people would be consulted. They went back on their word and put it onto the planning application without consultation. This upset many residents as the Wood is beautiful as it is. ‘Natural trees’ could quite easily be planted around it as the wood is very small. As I understand it it due to objections the plans were withdrawn. They have it in for beech trees as they are not native to the north of England, despite the wide range of wildlife that inhabits it. Be on the lookout for planning submissions and notices hidden from view, as they will try and sneak plans through.

From John Dunford

Friday, 8 January 2021

Hardcastle Crags are in the Parishes of Heptonstall and Wadsworth. In the past there were regular joint meetings between the National trust and the two parishes. I have been trying for some time to get these meetings reinstated. If they had continued we might not have been in this position.

I think it is time that we reconvened.

I believe that it is Wadsworth's turn to arrange the meeting!

From Bede Mullen, Slow the Flow

Saturday, 9 January 2021

It might appear to be counterintuitive to suggest felling beech trees could help with flood prevention, improve bio and habitat diversity and water quality but it’s true,  take a look this woodland management statement. 

Slow The Flow has been working with the National Trust at Hardcastle Crags for the past four years installing leaky dams and flood storage areas, stuffing gullies and placing logs along the contours of the land with the aim of slowing the flow of water from the Tops into the river system. Over 1000 volunteers have given their time and energy to make this happen. We have evidence that this type of natural flood management works and helps reduce the impact of flooding.

The works we have carried out have only been possible because of the support of the National Trust and, in particular, their Woodland Management Plan which calls for the thinning of woodland to encourage the growth of new vegetation by allowing light to the woodland floor. As a consequence, a number of trees are/have been felled, particularly broad- leafed non-native species.

Beech trees are a particular problem in Clough Woodland, their shallow root system on steep valley sides makes them prone to toppling in high winds. As most of these trees have not been managed for decades they are often densely packed growing taller to compete for light. As they grow taller and their canopy enlarge they typically start to lean and fall victim to their shallow root structure. They also typically prevent about 95% of sunlight getting to the woodland floor preventing the growth of other plants and trees. This leads to poor hydraulic roughness allowing surface water to flow faster with increased soil erosion.

Thinning the woodland will allow ground covering plants to return, increasing absorption and bio/habitat diversity, along with improved timber quality. Tree thinning is recognised as a positive approach to natural flood management, especially when the felled wood can be used for woody leaky dams etc.

Beech trees are magnificent and there is nothing quite like the sight of a stand of beech trees in the autumn as their leaves change colour. The National Trust’s Woodland Management Plan is to remove a percentage of beech and other non-native broad leaf  trees from Hardcastle Crags, Crimsworth Dene and Pecket Well Clough and replace them with between 10,000 and 15,000 native trees. The details can be found here. 

Bede Mullen

Chair, Slow The Flow

From Sue Fenton

Saturday, 9 January 2021

The Midgehole residents who objected understand the need for woodland management and the particular problems with beech trees. Theirs was not an objection to felling per se but to felling this particular avenue of trees which are architecturally beautiful and largely only overshadow the pack horse track, where there would be no ground cover growth. If they fell they are most likely to fall downhill where no-one walks. 

Personally I am convinced by the need to thin beeches but, in this case I did not see that the felling of these trees would achieve anything other than the destruction of a beautiful landmark.

From Andy G

Sunday, 10 January 2021

On a related, but slightly different, topic, Calderdale Council are in the process of felling the lovely mature pine tree on Birchcliffe Road at the top of the Bankside Ginnel. Does anyone know why this is being done?

From  P. Marshall

Monday, 11 January 2021

Following what Bede Mullen has said; I agree with the aims of the Management Plans, the selected felling of trees and Slow the Flow strategy. It is essential for the woodland's future.

But there are aspects that aren't clear. (Beech is a native species but introduced to the Calder Valley in 18th century).

Who selects which Beech trees to fell and what criteria informs this?

Is there a process for surveying the older Beech to select those fitting Veteran Tree status?

Calderdale's bio-diversity plan wishes to maintain current numbers of Veteran/Ancient trees; its Tree and Woodland Strategy would also like such trees to be recorded. 

The association of Beech with the most number of species of fungi than any other native tree needs bearing in mind.

A fascinating fact: Young Beech saplings don't establish as well if they get sunlight before 10.30 in the morning (it's the mycorrhizal fungi), which is probably why they do so well in the Calder Valley.

The author of the management plan said restocking/planting would only happen, if after 5 years self-seeding had not taken place. 

The planting of 10,000 to 15,000 trees sounds excessive. What are the management strategies for this new planting to prevent unwanted shade returning?