DAMAGE caused to a popular woodland during the Second World War is set to be reversed by a new project.

The National Trust has began a project to restore the natural woodland habitat on its land at Staward Gorge near Whitfield.

The project is part of the property’s woodland management plan to restore the site to mostly native broadleaf trees, in an attempt to stimulate biodiversity.

Many of the original broadleaf trees on the ancient woodland site were felled during the Second World War as part of the war effort. After the war, fast growing conifers were planted in case another conflict broke out.

While this never happened, it meant conifers now dominate Staward Gorge. Their thick foliage means sunlight can’t get to the ground and woodland flora is not regenerating, destroying the habitats of small creatures such as dormice.

As a result, around 15 and a half hectares of conifers will be felled, and replaced with broadleaf and Scots pine trees.

Countryside manager Becky Hetherington said: “This is a really positive project for Staward Gorge.

“The removal of conifers and subsequent replanting of native species of trees will let light back into the woodland and encourage the flora and fauna to thrive.”

It is expected the work will take four months, and some paths around the gorge could be closed.