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Restoring Hardknott Forest

Forestry England are 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, Forestry England 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 Forestry England, the University of Leeds is assisting with practical restoration activities and research. Volunteers from the University of Leeds, the John Muir Trust and the local area have contributed over 1000 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. You can follow the project on Facebook / Twitter, and Instagram and check out our YouTube channel. Contact John at