The Lincolnshire Limewoods area covers just over 2% of Lincolnshire but it includes over a quarter of the county’s ancient woodland. Ancient woodlands have existed since before 1600 and they are the most important woods for wildlife because they contain more plants and animals than modern woodlands. They are impossible to replace.
The ancient woodlands in the Limewoods area are particularly special because they contain small-leaved lime trees. Woodlands containing small-leaved lime trees are unusual and there are very few left in Britain. The greatest concentration and most important examples of limewoods in the country are found in the Lincolnshire Limewoods area. These woods date back to prehistoric times. Not only are they mentioned in the Domesday Book, but scientists say that they are one of the few remaining British examples of wildwood. The national importance of the woods has been recognised and many of the woods in the area are designated as part of the Bardney Limewoods National Nature Reserve or as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The limewoods that are not designated as part of the NNR or as SSSIs are designated as Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) in recognition of their nature conservation value.
The woodlands designated as part of the Bardney Limewoods NNR or as SSSIs are protected against damaging operations and development that would adversely impact on their nature conservation importance. The legislation protecting SSSIs gives Natural England powers to ensure better protection and management of SSSIs. The LWS designation is non-statutory and therefore does not legally protect sites from damaging operations. LWSs are however afforded protection through the planning system. Regardless of the nature conservation designation of woodland sites, ancient woodland itself is also afforded protection through the planning system.