Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere & Forest (LEAF) Centre

Restoring Hardknott Forest

The Forestry Commission is undertaking an exciting project to restore Hardknott Forest, one of the largest conifer plantations in the Lake District, to native woodland.

Hardknott Forest is a 600 hectare conifer plantation in the upper reaches of the Duddon Valley in the Lake District. It was planted in the 1930s after strong local opposition. Now, 80 years later, the forest plantations are reaching maturity. After consultation with local people and organisations the Forestry Commission has decided to restore the entire plantation into native habitats of oak and birch woodland, bogs and open ground.

This initiative represents a historic opportunity to create the largest semi-natural woodland in the Lake District; linking Hardknott Forest with the existing Duddon Valley Woodlands, a series of ancient oak woodlands that snake down the valley and all the way to the coast.

In partnership with the Forestry Commission, the University of Leeds is assisting with practical restoration activities and research. Volunteers from the University of Leeds, Scottish Rural University College, and the John Muir Trust have contributed over 500 days of conservation work. Results from surveying of the regenerating vegetation in the area have been published here.

For more information on how to get involved head to the project website (or find more details here), follow the project on Facebook / Twitter, or contact John (J.H.Hodgson@leeds.ac.uk).