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Woodland

 

The importance of woodland management in the NIA cannot be overstressed. Contrary to some opinion there is little conflict between habitat health and timber management in most UK woodlands. This is because, for such a small resource (Britain has some of the lowest woodland cover in Europe) there is a need for all age classes of trees to be represented within woodlands for maximum habitat benefits. In addition, because of the lack of natural predators in woodland ecosystems, deer and squirrel numbers are now at levels that prevent natural tree regeneration through excessive browsing and bark stripping of new trees. Many neglected broadleaved woodlands are in decline.

Regular management, such as thinning and coupe felling with restocking with native species in protective tubes helps to reverse this trend, securing the long term survival of woodland and helping to restructure the overall canopy to a more heterogeneous character. This, in turn provides more habitats suitable for birds, mammals and insects that depend on younger, denser areas of woodland, such as flycatchers, dormice and high brown fritillary.

 Currently, there is a high demand for firewood as a renewable alternative to fossil fuels, which has increased the market price that woodland owners can get for small diameter hardwood. This is excellent news as many woodlands in the past few decades have remained undermanaged because of the financial constraints of cutting and extracting timber at a price which can be recuperated after sale. Unfortunately, in many cases, woodland rides have become derelict over time and there may be considerable work to be done in order to create viable extraction routes in Devon’s typically steep and wet woodlands.

The NIA is working with partners such as the Forestry Commission to increase the uptake of grants developed to improve access into woodlands and to provide help with other operations where woodland management and woodland creation is subject to financial constraints, especially where re-stocking may be hampered by high populations of red and roe deer and young trees are bark stripped by grey squirrels.

  

 

 

Top of the NIA’s list, in our efforts to connect habitats across the landscape, is the creation of new native woodland on appropriate sites. The creation of new native woodlands not only increases the current cover of this important habitat, but also provides opportunities for landowners to become more self sufficient in providing for their energy needs, but also can help to reduce the effects of nutrient run off and flooding in catchment sensitive areas.

At present, Forestry EWGS grants for woodland creations are very generous and in most cases will cover the costs of the new planting and compensate for the loss of productivity during the period of establishment. However, there is a very short window of application before the current European funding finishes. Interested parties are advised to contact the NIA as soon as possible in order not to miss this opportunity.

The NIA works with a local community interest company, Trees and Land CIC, to provide advice to land owners and managers on woodland planting and woodland management.

Details for Trees and Land can be found on the Contacts page.

All photographs courtesy of Trees and Land CIC.