A NORTHUMBERLAND Wildlife Trust partnership has received a cash boost of £5,000 which will be spent on planting thousands of native trees.

Kielder Wildwood, a five-year project made possible by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is working towards establishing a low density, native upland woodland on 100 hectares of open land along Scaup Burn at Kielderhead.

The project aims to expand the population of what could be the only few remaining native Scots pines in the UK. The current population of trees is too small and ageing to allow a self-sustaining population to develop. It also offers the project team the opportunity to restore a characteristic native upland pine woodland habitat, unique to England.

Fauna and flora biodiversity will be increased due to habitat diversification, as the woodland matures. Bird communities are expected to change favourably due to the enhancement of edge and scrub habitats, which will favour upland bird species such as willow warbler, tree pipit, woodcock and black grouse, all of which have suffered significant decline in the last few decades.

Throughout 2018, 53 volunteers, including 23 students from local universities and colleges, spent 114 cumulative days planting over 5,300 trees, including alder, downy birch, hawthorn and Scots pine, complete with tree protection stakes and tubes on the lower slopes of the southern portion of the Kielder project area.

Now, thanks to the £5,000 from the Community Foundation, staff and volunteers are set to plant 6,500 downy birch and 300 holly trees along Scaup Burn – the northern and lower portion of the site – every Tuesday and Thursday, between March and the end of May as the project gathers momentum.

Steven Lipscombe, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Kielder wildwood project officer, has managed the tree planting. “We have a target of 39,000 trees to be planted between 2018-2022, so the efforts of our trust volunteers and university students is invaluable,” he said.

“Planting trees is costly, so I am delighted with the £5,000 we have received, which will help develop the Scaup Burn area of the site and as we march on towards creating a living landscape for future generations to marvel at. In the meantime, anybody wishing to be part of this exciting project should visit www.nwt.org.uk/wildwood.”