Thursday, April 15, 2021

Nature's natural corridor

Where were we?

Pedunculate oak on Burringham hill in Scunthorpe
2,225 trees planted on site I and J

We were working on two large distinct sites in Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire that were connected by the Ironstone and Ridgeway walkway linking parks and greenspaces from North to South through Scunthorpe. We were planting 21,000 trees across ‘Hempdykes’ adjacent to Ferry road through to Doncaster road, and around Burringham hill area which extended from Hardy road to West Common Lane. These sites held similar features of having small areas of existing woodland and scrub coverage and on behalf of the local council and trees provided by ‘Trees for Climate’, TCV contributed to developing a wildlife corridor through Scunthorpe, fundamentally contributing to targets for the Northern Forest Project. North Lincolnshire council have planned to plant 172,000 trees in the next 5 years to improve greenspaces and create 25 acres of woodland. To develop local areas to where I live is quite rewarding as I feel I am developing the green spaces for the great cause. 


2,725 trees planted at site B and C at Hempdyke

Across the area we planted 12 species of trees and 7 species of shrub to create a diversity woodland. These species included (image above) Throughout planting I developed my skills in tree identification by the coloration of the buds and bark and the shape of the leaves for example I learnt that Rowan has darker bark and black buds compared to hazel that has lighter bark and medium sized green buds and Field maple having bark that appears to have vein like indentations that run down the length of the stem and light-colored dots on the bark. Trees we did not plant were Dutch elm disease which can be spread by Bark beetles which was accidently imported and has devastated the native Elm in the UK. However, we did plant a species of elm, specifically Wych elm which has resistance to this disease which allows it to be involved in the planting program. Similarly, European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) cannot be planted in the UK because of ‘Ash dieback’ which can be identified by a dark brittle band on the bark which can result in the whole tree collapsing. Compared to reading a book on tree ID, to physically plant the trees has developed my ID skills of native broadleaf and I would more confident now in identifying a species compared to at the start when I started this project.  

What were we conserving?

Wildlife corridors are created to link habitats together to allow wildlife to disperse and have connected movement between historic and new sites, otherwise wildlife would be isolated to one area due to habitat fragmentation. Wildlife corridors usually are linear and can vary in size and type to provide connectivity. With ever growing human populations and expansion of urban areas and infrastructure, these wildlife corridors can be many forms such as rivers, woodland, hedgerows and man-made ‘green bridges’ which are more predominant in biodiversity hotspots.

Planting on Hardy road next to Westcliff Primary School

Why is this conservation important?

Forestry research indicates that from 31st March 2020 there is an estimated 3.21 million hectares which represents 13% of the total land coverage in the UK, 10% in England, 15% in Wales, 19% in Scotland. Connectivity fundamentally provides species the ability to freely immigrate which as a result can assist in supporting a genetically diverse and genetic flow for meta populations. Freedom to travel though connected wildlife corridors allow species to avoid predation and movement away from possible catastrophic events such as wildfires or oil spills into a waterway that could wipe out a population if they were restricted to one habitat. Alongside this, global pressures of climate change trends, require connectivity for species to immigrate away from areas which are no longer suitable such as migrating birds which are migrating further North.

In the UK, Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) are 1 of 6 deer which travel long distance across the UK and cover a large extent of occurrence and are commonly seen amongst urban environments. Linear fragmentation and degraded woodland highlighted an impairment in gene flow compared to intact connected woodland. In the future genetic methods may constitute a useful tool to identify the state to prioritize action plans for maintaining functional wildlife corridors across landscapes. On the other hand, a mammal which benefits tremendously from intact woodland is the Hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius). A rare and vulnerable species to extinction this species is a priority species on the Biodiversity Action Plan and under the Wildlife and Countryside act 1981. The Hazel dormouse has continued to decline in population numbers for over 100 years with 72% of the population declining 25 years ago.

Planting on site G and H on Hempdykes

More information 

North Lincolnshire Council | Ambitious plans revealed to create 25 acres of urban woodland in Scunthorpe (

North Lincolnshire Council | Tree planting scheme continues to grow (

The Northern Forest: Planting 50 Million Trees | The Woodland Trust

Wildlife corridors –

Benefits of Conserving Wildlife Corridors (

Burkart, S., Gugerli, F., Senn, J., Kuehn, R. & Bolliger, J. (2016). Evaluating the functionality of expert-assessed wildlife corridors with genetic data from roe deer. Basic and Applied Ecology, 17(1): 52-60.

Dondina, O., Kataoka, L., Orioli, V. & Bani, L. (2016). How to manage hedgerows as effective ecological corridors for mammals: A two-species approach. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 231: 283-290.

Crooks, K. and Sanjayan, M., 2006. Connectivity conservation: maintaining connections for nature. Cambridge University Press, pp.1-20.--- Connectivity conservation: maintaining connections for nature (Chapter 1) - Connectivity Conservation (

 Woodland Statistics - Forest Research

Hazel Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) - Woodland Trust

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