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100th woodland management plan in The National Forest

Wednesday, 26th August 2015

The 100th woodland management plan in The National Forest has been approved by the Forestry Commission, the UK governing body for forestry.

Woodland management plans are a vital part of the National Forest Company’s (NFC) Forest & Woodland Management Programme. Approval of the 100th plan by the Forestry Commission marks a major milestone in the programme, which started in September 2013, and sees over 5,000 hectares of woodland with an approved management plan and undergoing active management: approximately 50% of the total woodland within The National Forest.

Woodland management is an increasingly important aspect of creating The National Forest. Over 8 million trees have been planted throughout the 200 square miles of The National Forest since the 1990s, and although new woodlands continue to be created and more trees planted, managing the growing trees is vital to create healthy, resilient and productive woodlands.

Through the NFC’s Forest & Woodland Management Programme, landowners can obtain advice on planning the future management of their woodland, including taking out first thinnings to create space for the remaining trees to thrive, and advice on how best to prevent and minimise the impact of any pests and diseases that may affect the woodland.

Charles Robinson, Woodland Management Officer for the NFC, explains further:  “Creating a woodland management plan is the first step in managing woodland. The plan sets out the vision for the woodland and creates objectives as to how this will be achieved over the following 10 years. By looking at all aspects of the woodland, including both the opportunities and the threats that may face the site over the coming years, the owner has a working document which will help them make the  right decisions in the future. By working with our partners at the Forestry Commission, a plan will also provide a felling license for the woodland so that all operations are approved and conform to the UK Forestry Standard.”

The 100th woodland management plan was produced by Angus Hancock, of Cameron Forest & Garden Ltd. for Michael Stanton. Mr Stanton planted two woodlands through the National Forest Company’s Tender Scheme, the first (Stanton’s Wood) in 2000 and the second (Windmill Wood) in 2001. In total, the woodlands cover 60 hectares and lie just north of Ticknall, Derbyshire.

As part of the woodland design, permissive public access was granted across both woods, and a permissive horse route created around the edge of Stanton’s Wood. These routes have been well used over the last 15 years and have become an asset to the local area. In addition a horse riding cross-country course was established in Windmill Wood and horse riding events are held regularly at the farm attracting new riders to the area.

As a result of the management plan first thinning work will be carried out by a local contractor over the coming winter. First thinnings involve the removal of 25-30% of the trees to give space for the remainder to continue to grow well. At the same time the best trees will be selected for pruning, where the side branches will be removed to encourage upward growth and to reduce the number of knots in the timber. The felled timber will be sold locally as firewood.

The work has been supported by the NFC through its Woodland Management Grant. This grant is designed to help manage woodlands in The National Forest, bringing benefits for wildlife, timber and public access.

Michael Stanton commented: “Having the advice and help from the NFC has been invaluable. I’ve been really pleased how the woodlands have grown over the years and the difference they have made to my farm business. The wildlife has improved – I regularly see hares and kestrels - and local people enjoy walking through the woods. But I knew I needed some help to get to the next stage and manage the woods effectively, so being able to plan the work with expert assistance has been extremely useful. I can see how the woodlands will really benefit and I look forward to seeing how the trees grow away well with more space and light.”

Charles Robinson added: “Having a management plan in place really helps the woodland owner plan the work for the benefit of the timber, the wildlife and for people to enjoy the woodland to the full.”

Further woodland management activity will be happening in Mr Stanton’s woods over the coming years, as set out in his management plan.

For more information on woodland management in The National Forest see http://www.nationalforest.org/woodlands/