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Green Actions

Restoring Hardknott Forest

Hardknott Forest is a 600 hectare conifer plantation in the upper reaches of the Duddon valley in the Lake District. It was planted in the 1930s despite strong local opposition. Now, over 70 years later, the forest plantations are reaching maturity and after consultation with local people and organisations the Forestry Commission decided to restore the entire plantation into native habitats of oak and birch woodland, bogs and open ground.

A group of people watch a demonstration of tree planting

This initiative is a historic opportunity to create the largest semi-natural woodland in the Lake District; linking Hardknott Forest with the existing Duddon Valley Woodlands, a series of ancient oak woodlands that snake down the valley and all the way to the coast.


Non-native trees are gradually being removed and replaced with native species such as oak. Some areas are regenerating naturally and we have seen holly, willow, birch and rowan all returning to the forest, with associated benefits for native wildlife. Other areas of the forest will remain as crag or bog.


The local area is known to support rare mammal species such as dormice, otters and red squirrels, and birds increasingly seen here include great spotted woodpeckers, jays and bullfinches. Monitoring of the wildlife and vegetation is an ongoing and fascinating part of the project.


Volunteering and education


Volunteer days are open to all and are a great opportunity to socialise and to learn about forest restoration, as well as contribute to creating more native woodland in Cumbria. Tasks include removing non-native trees, planting native species, collecting and propagating seeds, and the protection and maintenance of native trees.

You can find out more about the project, and how you can participate, via:


Email: [email protected]


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Forestry commission, united bank of carbon and university of leeds logos.
Redknott forest logo

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