Landowner to use £95,000 grant to transform wood

Robin Ridley, South Yorkshire Forest Partnership, left with Len Batty in Cawthorne Park Wood, near Barnsley.
Robin Ridley, South Yorkshire Forest Partnership, left with Len Batty in Cawthorne Park Wood, near Barnsley.
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A LANDOWNER in South Yorkshire plans to transform his 265-acre woodland into a haven for bird life.

Len Batty, aged 65, bought Cawthorne Park Wood near High Hoyland, Barnsley, in 1988.

Draped across rolling hills, the 106-hectare beauty spot nestles in some of South Yorkshire’s most idyllic countryside, once fondly known as Little Switzerland.

Now Mr Batty has decided to improve the habitat for woodland birds.

He has been awarded a £95,000 Forestry Commission grant to remove 20,000 tonnes of conifer timber over the next five years

He will then replace them with broadleaf trees, open spaces and glades – helping plants, animals, insects and birds.

The lesser spotted woodpecker, hawfinch, willow tit, willow warbler, garden warbler and woodcock are among birds that will thrive in their new habitat.

The old timber will be used as an eco-friendly energy source.

Mr Batty said: “There’s loads to do at Cawthorne Park and by selling the timber for green energy the long-term management costs can be offset.

“The results will be a much better place for wildlife, which is brilliant.”

The money will come from a new £200,000 fund secured from the EU by the Forestry Commission and South Yorkshire Forest Partnership for a project called Activating Forest Owners, which aims to get more local woods producing wood fuel.

Rudie Humphrey, from the Forestry Commission, said: “We are also really stoked by this scheme because much of the timber removed will be used as woodfuel – a leaner burning and far more eco-friendly energy source than fossil fuels.

“South Yorkshire has 28,662 acres of woodland, but much of it is an untapped resource for both wildlife and timber.

“We want see more woodland owners following Len Batty’s excellent example.”

Work starts at Cawthorne Park next month and felling will be done selectively to avoiding clear felling, which is important as the woodland can be seen for miles around.