Work Begins Replenishing Woodland On M62 Corridor
30 November 2018, 12:13 | Updated: 30 November 2018, 12:15
The Woodland Trust has started work to repair the stretch of land devastated by wildfires this summer.
They're planting 5,500 trees along the M62 corridor.
It's after the fires - thought to be lit by arsonists - tore through the moorland in July - even destroying the first trees to create the 'northern forest'.
Around a third of the Smithills Estate, bought by the Woodland Trust in 2015, was damaged by the fire, hitting wildlife such as brown hares and common lizards.
The site also suffered one of its biggest droughts this summer, putting strains on the environment of upland grassland, moorland, streams and woodlands that make up the landscape.
Chris Waterfield, general manager at the site, said: "The fire seems like yesterday and when it hit, it was a massive state of emergency - something that as a charity we had not handled before.
"We worked round the clock with local services to bring it under control.
"Unfortunately we did lose 2,000 trees to the flames and since then we have been busy looking at how to restore the land and try and mitigate future disasters.
"Planting these trees is another step as we help the land recover from its troubled summer."
Around 85% of the area is showing signs of natural regeneration, with grass and bracken quickly recovering, but around 15% still has bare charred earth which will need management to recover, the Woodland Trust said.
Recovery is being helped by £4 million of Heritage Lottery Fund money which the charity received when it bought the site, but which it needs to match fund through fundraising.
Money will go to plant new trees and re-wet the site to help wildlife recover and prevent future disasters, while the Trust will also train up volunteers to help monitor the site's recovery is looking into investing in equipment designed to create future fire breaks.