Kielder Forest


Kielder Forest

Kielder Forest is a large forestry plantation in Northumberland, England. It is the largest forest in the UK, covering an area of 500 km² [ [http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-6QLLGP Forestry Commission - England - North East - Managing our woodlands ] ] . There is a large reservoir, Kielder Water at the heart of the forest.

History

The forest is owned and managed by the United Kingdom Forestry Commission, who initiated the first plantings in the 1920s. During the 1930s, the Ministry of Labour supplied the men from among the unemployed in the country generally. Many came from the mining communities and shipyards of the North East of England. They were housed in one of a number of Instructional Centres created by the Ministry, most of them on Forestry Commission property; by 1938, the Ministry had 38 Instructional Centres across Britain. The hutted camp in Kielder is now under Kielder Water.

Prior to the 1920s, the land was predominantly open moorland, managed for grouse shooting and sheep grazing with remnants of native upland woodland existing along streamsides and in isolated craggy areas. The Forestry Commission, funded from the public purse, purchased land across the country with the brief of establishing a strategic reserve of timber for the nation. This single objective held sway until the 1960s. Since that time, management principles have changed in order to reflect rising awareness of environmental needs and to provide recreational facilities whilst seeking to maintain a sustainable supply of timber. Kielder today remains state owned and its development from a single objective plantation to multi-purpose forest mirrors the development of plantation forestry across the United Kingdom.

Geography

The name 'Kielder Forest' is often also applied to the area of hills and remote moorlands that surround the forestry plantations. The group of hills merges into the Cheviots to the north-east but is generally well-defined on other sides. It reaches a maximum height of 602 m at Peel Fell and also contains the Marilyns of Sighty Crag and Larriston Fells. These hills, despite not being very high, are particularly remote owing to the scarcity of settlement in the region. Indeed, Sighty Crag is the furthest hill in England from a road.

Trees

Kielder is dominated by conifers. Sitka Spruce ("Picea sitchensis") covers 75% of the planted area, this species thrives in the damp conditions afforded by northern Britain. Other species include Norway Spruce ("Picea abies") and Lodgepole Pine ("Pinus contorta"), which cover 9% of the area each. The remainder is made up of Scots Pine ("Pinus sylvestris"), larch ("Larix" spp.), Douglas-fir ("Pseudotsuga menziesii"), and broadleaves including birch ("Betula" spp.), Rowan ("Sorbus aucuparia"), cherry ("Prunus" spp.), oak ("Quercus" spp.), Beech ("Fagus sylvatica"), and willow ("Salix" spp.).

Timber

475,000 cubic metres of timber is harvested annually to supply local sawmilling, chipboard, pulp and wood fuel customers. Most of this volume comes from clearfelling areas, an increasing percentage however is sourced from stands harvested under continuous cover silviculture systems. Clearfelled areas are replanted with a mix of coniferous and broadleaf tree species, opportunities are also taken to increase the proportion of open space and to improved the riparian habitat. As with all Forestry Commission woodlands timber is independently certified under the Forest Stewardship Council scheme.

Environment

The forest contains a number of sites of special scientific interest, primarily associated with the upland moorland environment. A programme of restoration of Border Mires is ongoing. The forest is one of the last English strongholds of the European red squirrel, and provides excellent habitat for many species of raptors. A large population of roe deer are actively managed. Many archaeological remains can be found within the forest and are an important cultural link to the often turbulent history of the area.

Recreation

Kielder Castle Visitor Centre is an 18th century hunting lodge built by the Duke of Northumberland, which has been converted into a visitor and information centre. It is located on the edge of Kielder Village at the head of the River Tyne valley.

The Castle serves as a hub for the growing number of recreational facilities on offer, walking and cycling trails, picnic areas and a forest drive.

The forest contains a number of art and architectural installations including a Skyspace [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20000918/ai_n14341450 Jay Merrick in the Independent on the Kielder Skyspace] designed by James Turrell and "Wave Chamber", a camera obscura in a stone cairn by Chris Drury.

The forest also contains Kielder Observatory which is an astronomical observatory.

References

* Burlton, B. Jardine, D. O'Hara, J and Probert, C., "Kielder Forest Park, Guide Book" 1996, HMSO, London, ISBN 0-85538-273-2
* Field, J. "Learning Through Labour: Training, unemployment and the state, 1890-1920, 1992, University of Leeds, ISBN 0-900-960-48-5

External links

* [http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/site/highlights/the-icons/kielder-water-and-forest-park/ Kielder Water and Forest Park Guide from VisitNorthumberland.com]
* [http://www.forestry.gov.uk/ Forestry Commission]


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