Berkshire

Swinley Forest to be planted with new trees after fire

Staff from the Forestry Commission have begun planning how to replace thousands of trees damaged or destroyed in a forest fire in Berkshire last month.

Some 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) of Swinley Forest was damaged in Berkshire's worst woodland fire.

The mature woodland could take as long as 20 years to recover.

The Forestry Commission has begun monitoring the recovery of trees and made plans to replant more fire-resistant woodland in future.

"We're checking on the extent of what's been burnt, what's survived quite clearly and what falls in the middle" said Nick Hazlitt, a forester for the commission.

"We have to monitor it over the next few months to see how the trees survive." he said.

Mr Hazlitt said the commission was looking at what it could learn from the devastating fire.

The body will look at planting more diverse tree species to replace the pines which were previously planted there.

According to Mr Hazlitt, the woodland can support chestnut trees, which act as firebreaks, whereas the pines are more prone to burning.

"We have to take into account factors such as climate change or possible future fires or floods," he said.

Rare birds including Dartford warblers, woodlarks and nightjars also nest in Swinley's forest clearings.

"We are hoping to create greater biodiversity," said Mr Hazlitt.

Planting is expected to start in October or November this year.

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