Larch trees were planted in the new woodlands on Peel Park and the Coppice LNR by Lancashire County Council and Hyndburn Borough Council during the 1970s-90s. The tree is not a native British species as it was introduced 400 years ago for it’s fast-growing timber. The trees themselves are hybrids of two different species from mainland Europe and Asia, the European Larch (Larix decidua) and Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi).
Although they aren’t native, they are still an ecologically useful tree species. heir primary functions on the site were to reduce soil erosion on the slopes and to act as ‘nurse’ species for the oak trees that were also planted in the red and yellow areas shown on the map. The larches grow faster and so act as barriers which served to shelter the young, small, oak saplings. Now that the oak trees are big enough to support themselves, the larches surrounding them aren’t needed as much. The gaps left by the felled larches will leave room for the oak trees to grow larger and flourish. This is a positive management method known as ‘halo’ thinning.
To increase the presence of native, broad-leaved, tree species, there will be selective thinning of larches in two areas. This will start with the plantation of larches in the red area, before moving to the yellow area.
Both areas will be thinned over the course of 6 day-long sessions. Around 35 trees are expected to be removed from each area. This will cause little to no harm to wildlife as there will still be many larches left on-site and the subsequent growth of native oaks will improve the habitat value of the woodland.
Access to the rest of the site will still be available but visitors will not be allowed to use paths near the felling on working days. Signage and workers will be present to redirect visitors.
The thinning took place on the 21st and 28th October, and the 4th, 11th and 18th November 2022. There was a final session on the 25th November 2022.
The felled timber will go back into the site; the wood will be used for benches, leaky dams, and habitat boxes. Branches and smaller timber will be used to create brash bundles and habitat piles. Some tree-planting of smaller tree species like Holly and Hazel may take place to fill in any large gaps left by the felled larches.
If you would like to know more and/or get involved in conservation work this autumn and winter, then contact Robert at email@example.com.