Ancient Woodland Restoration at Thirlmere

The Thirlmere Woodland Restoration Project

Cumbria Woodlands is partnering with the Lake District Foundation and United Utilities until March 2023 to deliver important nature restoration activities, funded by the DEFRA Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The funding will enable the following:

  • The delivery of vital restoration work on some of the most important Ancient Woodland sites in the Thirlmere Valley, and which include Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Plantations on Ancient Woodland sites.
  • The creation of a new full-time post, supporting a graduate forester to hone and develop their skills which is vital to ensure a skills pipeline into the conversation sector.
  • Advice on woodland creation and management to landowners and managers across Cumbria.


One vital new role has been created for a graduate forester.

195 ha

The number of hectares of ancient woodland restoration targetted across the Thirlmere catchment. 

40 days

The number of days given to free woodlands creation & woodlands management advice across Cumbria

Meet Bryce

A critical part of this project was the recruitment of a Graduate Forester to start implementing the plans for the Thirlmere valley. Not only is this project an investment in the future of the forests and woodlands around the reservoir, but also an investment in future foresters such as Bryce.

The project supports the ongoing professional development of Bryce and his progression in the industry. Being able to work across three organisations gives a depth of experience within the sector from funding, to management, to implementation on the ground.

Supporting Bryce through continuing professional development, memberships of professional bodies and mentoring is an investment in both Thirlmere and Bryce.

"I hope to start the gradual process of regeneration of PAWS and thus improve the condition of the wider environment to allow future generations to benefit from my work."

Ancient Woodland Restoration at Thirlmere

We caught up with Bryce to find out more about the project and the plans for the year ahead.

What's The Plan?

PAWS are defined as woodland sites which contain evidence of former ancient woodland and which have subsequently been planted with non-native trees. The overall goal of this project is to restore these sites to their former condition which will have numerous benefits to the woodland and the wider environment.

Restoration can generally be broken down into three steps, removing threats to ancient woodland features, manipulating species and canopy to move towards native woodland cover and finally, enhancing the site by adding or promoting certain features that are missing from the habitat.

All 195ha of PAWS have been surveyed in detail to identify the ancient woodland features we want to protect, the threats that are affecting them, and the most appropriate way to improve the woodland. Work is currently underway to mitigate or remove threats throughout the PAWS areas, with particular emphasis on the most critical areas and most serious threats. This work will continue till the end of the project gradually improving the woodland and moving towards a native habitat.

The next step is to conduct further surveying of PAWS areas to find out what features are missing and why. Further enhancement works will be planned based on this and long term adaptive management planning will be put in place to increase the woodlands biodiversity and resilience to future threats.

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