Huncoat East Woodland

Site: Huncoat East

Location: East side Altham Lane, Huncoat, between M65 motorway and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal

Grid reference: SD 7777 3165


Nearest postcode: BB5 5UR

Owner: Lancashire Council

Size of site: 4.50 hectares (approx.)

Initial Planting year: 1984                                                      Age: 38 years


The woodland is bounded by Altham Lane to the west and a path to the south that runs between the woodland and the M65.  The proximity to the motorway means the woodland is quite noisy.

There are no footpaths within the woodland and our management of this woodland is based on enhancing the woodland tree species and biodiversity.

There are extensive patches of the invasive Himalayan Balsam alongside the canal boundary but this is being controlled by volunteers who annually 'pull' the balsam to stop it spreading.  The ground is also wet in places.

Get there by public transport:

Buses to Huncoat Village are the number 9.

Huncoat is serviced by a rail station with a 1 mile walk North towards the site on Altham Lane from the station.


Woodland Condition Assessment

As part of the management process for all the woodlands we commissioned the Lancashire Wildlife Trust to undertake a 'Woodland Condition Survey' of the woodland.  This is a relatively quick and simple way of assessing the overall health of a woodland as it looks at indicators such as native trees and shrubs, the maturity of trees, deadwood, natural regeneration of trees and invasive species.  The survey gives an overall score out of 100.

The first survey of this woodland took place in May 2019 (downloadable below) and the woodland scored 70 out of 100, 70%.  Compared to the average score for other woodlands across Hyndburn (75%) this shows that Huncoat East is in a poorer condition than the average woodland in Huncoat.

May 2019 - Huncoat East Woodland Condition Assessment    (Click on the link to download.  The file is a 2MB PDF)

A follow up survey was undertaken in May 2021 by John Lamb of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust as part of a volunteer training session.  The results of this survey are not known yet.

As well as scoring a woodland, the survey also highlights ways of increasing the woodland score.

For Huncoat East, these include:

  • Allowing trees to mature (long-term)
  • Thinning the tree canopy to allow light to reach the woodland floor (short to medium term)
  • Create more deadwood (short to medium term)
  • Remove non-native trees (short to medium term)
  • Control the Himalayan Balsam (short to medium term)

The above points will be included in the management plan for the woodland.

Species of Trees and shrubs recorded on site: alder, grey alder, aspen, birch, bird cherry, goat willow, guelder rose, hazel, hawthorn, holly, rose, sycamore, oak

Species of Plants recorded on site: bramble, bryophytes, creeping buttercup, dandelion, nettle, hogweed, Male-fern, Broad Buckler-fern, Lady-fern, Lesser Celandine, Broad-leaved Willowherb, Wild Angelica, Selfheal, Cleavers, Common Sorrel, Marsh Thistle and Water Horsetail, Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage, Hedge Woundwort, Wood Avens
Grasses (Rough Meadow-grass, Reed Canary-grass, Tufted Hair-grass and Yorkshire-fog)

Species of Birds observed on site: Great Tits, Blue Tits, Blackbirds, Sparrow hawk, song thrush, Mistle thrush, Robin


Timber Volume Survey (May 2021)

On the 25th May 2021 volunteers from Prospects recorded all tree stems of 7cm or more diameter at breast height (dbh – measured 1.3m above ground level) and estimated the heights of trees in six x 5.60m radius plots (approx. 1/100th of a hectare) in the 4.50 hectare (ha) plantation known as Huncoat East.  A total of 68 stems were measured (6 x  0.01ha = 0.06ha, approx. 1.33% of the 4.5ha woodland), which gives us an estimate of 1,133 stems per hectare of which 27.9% are willows, 19.1% Aspen, 17.6% Alder, 10.3% birch and 10.3% Grey Alder – the other species being less than 5%.

The total volume of timber per ha is estimated at 151.4 cubic metres (m3) per ha, with a corrective, or form, factor of 0.39 (taken from Forestry Commission Handbook) applied because trees are not cylindrical as the stems/trunks reduce in volume from the base to the top of the tree. The estimated volume of timber in the 4.5ha woodland is approx. 681.5m3, of which 32.6% is willows, 17.4% Aspen, 17.2% Grey Alder, 16.5% birch and 10.2% Alder – the other species being less than 5%.

The woodland was planted in the winter of 1984/5 hence, in 2021, is 36 years old, which gives us an average annual increment (growth rate) of 4.2m3/ha/yr. Using a conventional 70% rule, the woodland could produce 2.9m3 of timber/ha/yr without eating into the capital/total volume, which equates to 13.2 m3/ha/yr from the whole woodland. 1m3 of broadleaved timber equates to 1 tonne.

As with all samples, the more you do the more accurate the results will be so please take bear that in mind.  Saying that, these results do give us a good picture of the woodland.

Key points to note (with some margin of error of course):

  • Huncoat East woodland is approximately 4.50 hectares in size
  • We estimate that there are just over 1,100 trees in the woodland.
  • The trees are primarily Willows (28%), Aspen (19%), Alder (18%), Birch (10%) and Grey Alder (10%).  These account for about 85% of the trees in the woodland.
  • We estimate that the volume of timber in the woodland is about 680 cubic metres.
  • We estimate (conservatively) that the amount of timber in the woodland is growing by over 13 cubic metres per year.
  • We are currently looking at how much Carbon Dioxide the woodland is soaking up each year!


Below are a few images of the Huncoat East woodland

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