Green fields highlighted by sunrays through heavy clouds from Curbar Edge

Upland Mixed Ashwoods

Peak District millstones on hillside near Stanage

Upland Mixed Ashwoods (pdf full description) 

Approximate extent – 965 ha

Distribution – White Peak

Opportunities and Threats

Disease - Ash Dieback has not yet been recorded in the Peak District but has been found in young planting sites around the Sheffield/Barnsley/Huddersfield area. Based on current information it seems likely that Ash Dieback will reach the Peak District within the next 3 years, possibly much sooner. For more information click here.

Extent - Formerly much more extensive in the White Peak.  Now largely confined to the steep-sided limestone dales (mostly within SSSIs), and therefore low risk to extent. Agricultural enclosure on the plateau during the 18th and 19th centuries relaxed grazing pressure in the dales allowing for a modest increase in extent over the last 200 years.

Condition – Generally good on protected sites, with X% within SSSIs in favourable or recovering condition. Lack of management has left some of the woodlands with a lack of veteran trees and deadwood, but recent management has been addressing this.

Connectivity - Generally very good in the Dales, occurring as part of expansive mosaics of semi-natural habitat, but with minimal or no connectivity over the dale brows. 

Climate change risks – Moderate.  Risk of domination by beech and sycamore as temperatures increase, and potential changes in species composition of specialist flora and fauna.


The largest examples of this habitat in Great Britain, with populations of nationally rare species, and being of international importance mean it is:

High priority to:

  • Maintain favourable and recovering condition in SSSIs.  [Addendum November 2012: This will be particularly challenging if Ash Dieback spreads to the Peak District and causes extensive loss of Ash, and may require a reassessment of the most favourable condition that our Upland Ashwoods could reasonably achieve in the face of the disease.]
  • Restore areas of plantation woodland to native cover.

Medium priority to:

  • Restore and connect with transitional habitats, from dale-bottom wet woodlands to dale-brow oak/birch woodland.

Lower priority to:

  • Expand ash woodland into minerals sites as part of quarry restoration schemes.

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