In September, as part of the Good Woods project, Alistair Yeomans of the Sylva Foundation contributed to a woodland management seminar organised for staff of the Surrey Wildlife Trust.
The principle aspects of developing a woodland management plan were discussed and how management planning ensures that woodland work conforms to the UK Forestry Standard.
A key step in creating a woodland plan is to map the various areas of woodland so that uniform woodland areas can be identified for planning purposes. Guidance for carrying this out can be found in the Forestry Commission England’s English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) 1 guidance document. The following is taken from the document and describes how a woodland can be divided into compartments and sub-compartments for planning purposes.
Woodland properties, compartments and sub-compartments
A property is defined as the largest unit of management used in decision making. This may be made up of multiple blocks of woodlands across a landscape that is under the same ownership. The forest industry uses “compartments” and “sub-compartments” to identify discrete areas of woodland just like the parcelling system used in agriculture, where each field has a unique reference.
Compartments are discrete woodlands (or parts of larger woodlands) defined by physical features such as roads, watercourses, tracks and land use changes. Compartment boundaries (like field edges beside a road) will hardly ever change. Most small farm woodlands can be considered as one compartment.
Sub-compartments are subdivisions of these permanent compartments. The boundaries of these are defined by significant differences found inside the woodland. This will include the boundaries of different species (or simpler divisions between conifer, broadleaved or mixed areas). Also relevant are things like significant age differences between adjacent areas, fence lines and features like rides and open glades.
Minimal intervention, management planning and the UK Forestry Standard
Some of the woodlands that the Surrey Wildlife Trust manages are situated on environmentally sensitive sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). If it is deemed that a minimal intervention approach is the best management strategy for these areas of woodlands then it is important to include these areas in the management plan, detailing why the decision has been made.
The UKFS guidance on minimum intervention is as follows:
Assess the possible areas for minimum intervention and, where these will deliver habitat objectives, allow ecological processes to develop.
This should relate to a monitoring schedule to assess the condition of the habitat over the course of the management plan (usually ten years) to evaluate the condition of the habitat and if minimum intervention is indeed the most appropriate strategy.
Other areas of woodland that are deemed to offer productive potential (for both habitat and production purposes) should also be clearly detailed on a map which will form part of the management plan.
The Good Woods project is a novel project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands. The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—will revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits. For more information contact Amy Hammond: firstname.lastname@example.org