Our project began in 2015, with a long term vision to create 30 hectares of native broadleaved woodland amongst areas of species-rich meadow and ponds. The Forest of Flowers will form a link with surrounding woodland and other habitats to offer maximum benefit to wildlife.
Specific aims are:
To contribute towards increasing the biodiversity of the area by providing habitat for a range of native wildlife particularly pollinating insects
To support the local ecosystem including via carbon storage, water purification and cooling and flood alleviation.
To educate and support others in planting native woodland and wildflower species.
Even though the plantation is complete, our project is just beginning. Over the coming years we will:
Develop and manage these habitats for maximum biodiversity
Continue to engage with wildlife experts and ecologists for monitoring purposes
Welcome the public to open days and events, offering advice on how anyone can create wildlife habitats, regardless of scale.
Further details of our woodland, wildflower meadows and wetland habitats are as follows.
We have planted 42,000 trees and shrubs, all of native species. The woodland is made up of small variable groups of the same species.
Large rides and glades provide open space and a diverse structure to the woodland. Shrubs planted around the edges of compartments, rides and glades provide further botanical and structural diversity.
Species planted include:
Pedunculate Oak Quercus robur 33%
Silver birch, Betula Pendula 17%
Small-leaved lime, Tilia cordata 10%
Field maple, Acer campestre 3%
Hazel, Corylus avellana 3%
Wild cherry, Prunus avium 2%
Since planting took place in 2015, we have already seen a huge increase in the number and variety of birds visiting us. As the trees develop they will offer a valuable habitat and food source for a wide range of wildlife.
We are hugely grateful to all partners involved in the plantation project, in particular to the Woodland Trust for all their support and guidance.
Over 35 species of wildflowers now thrive across our 74 acres of meadows.
Perennial and biennial species include:
Ox-eye daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare
Red campion, Silene dioica
Viper's bugloss, Echium vulgare
Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum
Birds foot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus
Meadow Buttercup, Ranunculus acris
Annual species include:
Corn Chamomile, Anthemis arvensis
Corn Cockle, Agrostemma githago
Cornflower, Centaurea cyanus
Poppy, Papaver rhoeas
Yellow rattle, Rhinanthus minor
Our meadows offer a continuous source of food for insects and birds, with many wildflowers also acting as host plants for butterflies and moths. Our regular surveys have shown a significant number of butterflies in recent years, with Forest of Flowers having the highest number of annual sightings in Yorkshire since 2020.
Since 2019 we have created 18 new ponds across the Forest of Flowers as part of our commitment to offer habitat for all types of wildlife.
In 2021/22, we created seven ponds specifically to offer perfect conditions for the great crested newt, including with hibernacula structures which provide ideal shelter. Our huge thanks to Natural England and Wildscapes CIC for their support with this project.
Our wetland habitat is already supporting a wide range of waterfowl and amphibians, and we look forward to seeing the ponds develop and thrive in years to come.
Our video below shows a full view of all ponds a few months after creation.