We have now started another significant piece of forestry work in Black Park, which is likely to run throughout October and November 2022.
The project started with a 10-year Woodland Management Plan being drawn up in agreement with the Forestry Commission – the Government department responsible for our woodlands in the UK. Once the vision for our woods was agreed, the work was divided up into manageable portions. We try to balance being practical and cost-effective without creating too much disturbance to our visitors and wildlife in one go.
The agreement in place allows for thinning of between 10% and 35%, depending on the size of the trees. Most compartments will be in the 20-25% bracket. We find that this is very sympathetic visually and doesn’t really notice unless you are looking for it.
The timing of the work is crucial. The main breeding season for birds and bats is spring through to summer, so this period must be avoided. But if we wait too long into winter the chances of the machinery getting stuck and making more dramatic mess in and around the woods increases enormously. So autumn, as soon as possible after the school summer holidays, is when we try to fit in projects of this kind.
We’re really pleased that the contractors we worked with in 2018 were available once again. Practicality Brown and Powell Forestry worked together to deliver some great results last time. It’s not easy doing this kind of work with such large machinery but still leaving relatively little collateral damage to the remaining trees, woodland floor, tracks and verges. The main machine, the ‘harvester’ has an operational weight of well over 20 tonnes. It is about 8m long and the arm that does the cutting adds another 8m to that! Weaving through the trees, away from hard surfaces, inevitably leads to some bumps, dips and scratches.
We do appreciate that many of our visitors would prefer not to see our trees cut down and removed. We use a form of woodland management called Continuous Cover forestry. Rather than clear-fell a whole section at a time and replant, we have been using a more sympathetic approach of thinning for many years. The idea is that when the machinery and timber leave site, what’s left is space for young trees to grow alongside their larger and older neighbours. This makes the woods more interesting structurally and visually as well as more biodiverse.
The richness of a woodland’s wildlife is mostly found at the margins, where light is most available. By removing some trees we let light reach the woodland floor even within the heart of the woods. This maintains the seedbank by allowing any dormant seed a chance to grow and therefore increases opportunities for wildflowers/grasses and young trees and shrubs. Our acidic soils host a whole range of native wildflowers, which need varying levels of light. For example, Lesser Skullcap (Scutellaria minor), Cat’s Ear (Hypochaeris radicata) and Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) are all found in Black Park. You will probably have seen around the park that the favoured locations for most of our butterflies, dragonflies and other invertebrates like hoverflies and bees tend to be where light levels are highest.
The timber sold from our forestry does bring in a relatively small income as well. The materials are processed and used for a combination of fencing, joinery, animal bedding and fuel – through biochip or firewood.
Whilst our forestry contractors are on site we need you to help them and us to get the job done safely.
- Respect any signage and path closures. It’s never very far to find another way round.
- Beware of and stay well away from the machinery. Just because you can see them clearly does not necessarily mean the operators can see you.
- Keep your dogs under close control and within your sight at all times.
Please see map in photos for locations
YELLOW LINE denotes the approximate area of the forestry works zone, working
from north to south
RED STAR denotes most likely areas for timber stacking. Lorries will be loading timber periodically in these areas.