A NEW woodland featuring more than 15,000 trees will slowly begin to take shape near Blacko.

Landowner James Butterfield has teamed up with the Forestry Commission and a Yorkshire nursery to create an expected cornucopia of oaks, birches and ashes at Wheatland Heights, which will be known as Ox Close Wood.

Under the commission’s Woodland Creation Grant Scheme, funding is provided to install native specimens on spare rural land.

Mr Butterfield leases out a portion of his 37-acre holding for sheep grazing but currently there are few trees present.

The new proposals will see a mini-forest, also featuring rowans, alders and willows, covering 35 acres, which is the size of 17 football pitches.

Mr Butterfield said: “I am delighted that we have been successful in securing funding from the Forestry Commission to create Ox Close Wood, which will not only increase the levels of bio-diversity in the area but also provide an enriched natural environment for members of the public who wish to walk in the area.”

He worked with York-based Thorpe Trees on the initiative, securing more than £25,000 in grants.

Caroline Thorpe, director of Thorpe Trees, said the project posed several challenges due to the East Lancashire weather and the possible threat to saplings from rabbits.

“We have had to select species suitable for growing in a typical Pennine environment where conditions can be bleak at any time of the year,” she added.

Other foliage will be installed at Ox Close - holly, hawthorn and hazel bushes and crab apple trees.

The move should encourage songbirds and squirrels to flourish.