The Woodland Management Plan

A Woodland Management Plan is produced for a 20-year time scale, and gives a clear guide to periodic operations from the outset. Plans are based on the characteristics of the woodland, and the objectives of the owner. They are an important feature in woodland management, and the production of a plan is now necessary to unlock public funding where support is available for planned operations. A minimum of £1000 planning grant is available under the new Countryside Stewardship scheme, to help fund the production of a woodland management plan to the Forestry Commission's required format.

Aims and objectives

While aims and objectives vary considerably, they may be ranked according to order. Usually included are some or all of the following:

* Economics and business development

* Timber production

* Improving habitat for biodiversity, or for specific species

* Amenity and sport

* Adding or restoring value to a woodland holding

* Tax management

The benefits of woodland management

“Non-intervention” may be a perfectly valid management prescription, perhaps within a broader woodland context where a patchwork of different habitat types will improve biodiversity. However, there is no “Wildwood” left in Britain, and a woodland-scale non-intervention prescription leads to reduced light levels on the woodland floor, loss of habitat, competitive stress, low productivity, and virtually zero additional carbon sequestration. Through careful planning, management can achieve far greater benefits:

* Rejuvenation and improved resilience to climate change

* Improved timber quality and firewood production

* Developing habitat for biodiversity

* Carbon sequestration

* Promote local employment and industry.

Support for woodland owners

Support is offered for all aspects of forestry, management and creating a woodland management plan. Characteristics of woodlands vary considerably, as do the objectives of owners. Furthermore, owner resources and inclinations differ. Some may have the time, labour and equipment for a hands-on, self-help approach, while others may need extra input in a number of areas. The role of a woodland agent therefore varies according to what the owner can put in. So while there is no such thing as a generic plan to management, close consultation and a thorough assessment of woodland characteristics will discover the right approach.

* Planning woodland management and silviculture to suit objectives

* Inventory, surveying, mapping and mensuration

* Restoration and regeneration of ancient woodland

* Identifying and applying for appropriate grants

* Budgeting

* Sale of produce and income

* Arranging and monitoring harvesting contracts

* Timber seasoning advice

* Design of new woodland

* Advice on deer pressure and pests in woodland

* Small pieces of advisory work

Management self sufficiency

Perhaps an unusual approach for a woodland management business is the aim of enabling woodland owners to have as much control as they would like, and to make an economic success of the development of their own resources. Not only can owners be encouraged to have full managerial control if they would like, but with developing confidence and experience, they will be able to visualise how a stand of trees, shrubs and flora will look in 10 to 20 years’ time after a woodland operation. They will then have the pleasure of watching the responses which result from their own work, and take pride in the habitat development and improvements in the growing stock, which will be the result of reinstating management.

Clive Ellis supports owners in achieving their own management self-sufficiency, providing the confidence, knowledge and connections which are necessary for their needs. Owners will be better off where they don’t have to pay ongoing management costs. They may also be happier that they are in direct control of planned operations.

Contact The Forestry Office for support with all aspects of woodland management planning.