Planning your woodland

Congratulations! A woodland site is yours… it’s time to make a plan of action.

You should already have strong local support, a funding strategy in place, and the overarching aims of your group. You might feel tempted to get out there and start making things happen on the ground but it’s important to spend a bit more time planning first. Time invested at this point will pay dividends later.

All woods will benefit from a management planning process, even if that results in a rationalised decision not to intervene. Management does not have to mean cutting down trees, it could mean choosing to leave them alone if that is the best way to achieve your objectives. There are lots of aspects to managing a wood that are not about the trees; such as maintaining boundary fences, keeping paths clear, removing invasive species, and managing other habitats such as ponds or open spaces.

Different groups will have different objectives for their sites. These may include timber or firewood production, conservation, recreation and education. In fact, it is likely that a group will have many different objectives that are compatible, though they may have higher priorities.

But all groups should take a sustainable management approach to their wood, whatever their objectives. Sustainable management means managing your wood in a way that meets current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. The framework of sustainable management will help you to balance your objectives.

In the UK, the Government has made an international commitment to sustainable forest management. The requirements and good practice guidelines for sustainable forestry are contained in the UK Forestry Standard. You will have to follow these if you are applying for public money to help you manage your wood. But even if you are not it is worth reading as it is in your interests and the interests of your woodland to follow them.

There is an increasing need to think not just about sustainability but also about resilience of your wood. Woods and forests are under pressure from many factors. Pollution, climate change, grazing pressure, invasive species and tree pests and diseases. Resilience describes the extent to which they are able to absorb and bounce back from these pressures. This is part and parcel of sustainable forestry, ensuring woodland habitats and species thrive in the future.

Download our advice sheets below for more information.

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