Where can I find out about Forestry England’s long-term plans for Great Penwood?
All of our strategic plans can be found online here; https://www.forestryengland.uk/forest-planning/great-pen-wood-forest-plan . Our Forest Design Plans (FDPs) help to define the long-term direction of the woodland and sets out key objectives. These plans provide the strategic and long-term direction for the woodland, which are then reviewed every ten years.
You’ll note that there is a consultation process as part of this review. The Forest Design Plan review is driven by our Planning team, working closely with the local Land Management team. For Great Penwood I believe this is at an early stage at the moment and therefore the timetable for this process is to be confirmed. Happy to keep you updated in that regard.
What about your up-and-coming plans?
Every five-years we look to review our operational plans for the woodland against the objectives set out within the FDP. At this stage we will look at the practicalities and considerations of these objectives at finer detail and look to establish our operational plans. These plans cover all aspects of our forest management; from planting trees and invasive species control through to timber harvesting operations. Within each period we’ll look at what we’re doing against each objective, and here I feel it would be helpful to explain in summary what our plan is for the next five years and what we will be doing to achieve that;
Much of the work will be delivered via mechanised timber harvesting that helps us to improve the stand and species structure of the woodland through encouraging natural regeneration, improving light levels through the canopy to support increased biodiversity and helping to increase the proportion of native species within the woodland. Creating species and structural diversity is important with the challenges we face with current pest and diseases and future challenges presenting by climate change. This will be supported through a combination of small-scale tree planting and also encouraging natural regeneration of desired species where appropriate to do so. We’ll continue to nurture recent plantings with on-going maintenance to support their establishment.
We will be looking to improve the biodiversity value along key ecological corridors where opening rides and junctions will improve light levels and encourage greater diversity of flora and structure. This will also improve access supporting attempts to control invasive species such as Rhododendron ponticum throughout the woodland.
There are a number of very valuable specimen and veteran trees through the woodland and our work will be looking at protecting and enhancing the amenity and conservation value held by these trees.
The valuable riverine corridors that run through the woodland will be enhanced through gradually thinning out conifers along the corridor edge, and removing invasive species in this corridor.
When will you be starting your works?
Whilst some works are on-going year round, for example our invasive species control programme and annual mowing regimes, we are anticipating that the greatest impact to user groups will be via the up-and-coming timber harvesting operation. Those that are familiar with the site would have noted the colourful marks on the trees. These guide the operators for tree selection and to steer our management decisions on-the-ground.
Our works are careful planned, however sometimes we need to review commencement dates and work areas for these operations. You’ll see advanced warning notices pop-up around the site to provide awareness to user groups ahead of the operations and then physical safety signs will appear around the site to keep people safe just prior to commencement. It’s really crucial that these signs are adhered to, and there will be occasions where routes will be temporarily closed or ‘bankspersons’ will be present to support site safety. The bulk of the harvesting activity may occur over approximately six to eight weeks, subject to various factors and is supported by timber haulage operations. It can look very dramatic at the time, but note the cyclical nature of the works and the site will recover in time too. Key rides and tracks will be reinstated followed the conclusion of works.
Due to the nature of the carpark at Penwood, we will be putting up advanced notice to restrict some of the parking at the main barrier within the carpark. It’s crucial to not just maintain operational access, but to ensure emergency access is maintained at all times. We are hoping to provide a compromise of maintaining access and avoiding the potential of problematic displacement parking elsewhere, whilst ensuring operational and emergency access to the woodland will be maintained.
The material used of the forest road?
Thanks for raising this item. To facilitate these operations we need to ensure that the forest road network highlighted is robust enough to support these wider operations. They are maintained ahead of the operations highlighted above, however due to a few operational delays we would have expected these roads to have settled and already be in use by this point. Our Civil Engineering team and contractors will advise on the most appropriate methodologies in this regard. You can imagine the haulage traffic travelling over these roads require the material to be robust and remain functional to guard against structural failure. We have found in this instance however that some of the finer material that was laid seems to have washed out in the interim between being laid and usage. We’ll feed this back to our Civil Engineering team to note. To note that it is anticipated that the material will however consolidate with the operational traffic.