Twywell Plantation: A Northamptonshire gem; from quarry to canopy

The Woodland Trust aims to plant and protect trees and woodlands, and to restore damaged ancient woodland.  

In 1997, the Trust acquired Twywell Plantation, a 37-acre site in Northamptonshire, which was originally an ironstone quarry*.  It was then planted with larch in 1932 by the Forestry Commission.  In the 1950s, other species were added, including Scot’s Pine, oak and spruce.

The site is adjacent to Twywell Gullet, a SSSI**, which is part of the Twywell Hills & Dales Nature Reserve, and contains limestone grassland.  The potential to increase biodiversity in the adjacent plantation and to support rarer wildlife preferring the limestone habitat, was spotted by the Trust.

A programme of thinning the densely-planted trees was carried out in 2003.  The current management plan (covering 2019-2024) has the overall management aim of creating a mixed conifer/broadleaved high forest*** (with a 10%:90% target) and 10% open space.  Another aim is to allow standing and fallen dead wood to create increased habitat for wildlife (where safety allows).

Diversity is already increasing with natural colonisation including sycamore, birch, elm and willow.  There is also increased shrub cover with elder and dog wood becoming established.  This will all help to build the woodland’s resilience.

The site is covered by a public footpath, and also has several permissive routes.  Being easily accessible from a lane 2 miles off the A14, it offers a welcome break during a long journey and is well worth a visit.

See www.woodlandtrust.org.uk for details.

*Ironstone – used to make iron ore.

**SSSI – Site of Special Scientific Interest

*** High forest – Usually plantation trees, 

with tall slender trunks and high canopies

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