Brighton & Hove City Council has drafted a woodland management plan for Stanmer Estate – where the most extensive woods in the city can be found – and is inviting you to comment on the plan by 12th February.
Woods and trees are home to more wildlife than any other habitat! Active woodland management can create more varied woodland habitat and so provide a home for a large variety of flora and fauna. Woodlands are also a fantastic resource for people through informal recreation, and a healthy woodland ecosystem also brings huge benefits to us through improved air quality and water resources.
If you enjoy walking, cycling or running through woodland you might recognise some of the features of managed woodland:
- A wide ride or footpath with scalloped edges will allow sunlight to reach the ground and provides habitat for insects, birds, butterflies and dragonflies.
Stanmer woodland garden path courtesy of Paul West
- A mature stand of trees with high and full canopy in an area of selectively thinned woodland supports the development of healthy trees that are more likely to become veteran trees of the future.
Mature Beech wood
- The wide base of a coppice stool or stump of a tree with numerous stems growing from it, these stems can be grown for 5 to 25 years before they are cut on a regular sustainable cycle. Here the forest floor is more exposed to sunlight encouraging bluebells, primroses or wood anemone to flower, as well as providing potential habitat for rare dormice.
The woodlands on the Stanmer Estate are a mixture of ancient semi-natural woodland, planted ancient woodland (e.g. with conifer trees), and more recent secondary woodland, with a number of areas designated as ‘Local Wildlife Sites’ (Sites of Nature Conservation Interest) by the council. Many areas have been continuously wooded since the 1700s and are considered ancient in nature. Some pockets of woodland pre-date this period when landscaping of the parkland involved planting woodland to surround the valley and create vistas from Stanmer House.
Since the 1700s management of the woodland and planting of woodland would have been carried out in order to gain wood fuel, coppice timber (for fencing, basket making etc) and to harvest structural timber. Since the 1980s the Stanmer Estate woods have not been managed as a whole however. Both Council and National Park rangers working with volunteers have managed some areas in the Great Wood, Coldean Wood and Sites of Nature Conservation Interest but they do not have the capacity to manage larger areas. As a result much of the woods are in poor condition to cope with challenges such as tree diseases – including Ash Dieback, a recently arrived disease affecting our native Ash trees that will have significant impacts upon the woods.
The council’s plan is designed to conserve the woodland for the long term benefit of the City, and has been produced by an independent forestry consultant for the council’s parks projects team.
The main objectives of the plan are to:
- Maintain and protect open access.
- Build resilience against Ash Dieback and other diseases and ensure existing woodland cover is maintained.
- Increase biodiversity and protect nationally and locally rare flora and fauna.
- Produce semi-commercial timber through extraction of coppice products, wood fuel and timber.
Public information sessions are being held on Thursday 1st Feb and Saturday 3rd Feb as a drop-in between 9am until midday at Stanmer Tearooms in Stanmer village.
Please comment on the draft Woodland Management Plan through the council consultation portal.
Following feedback, the council then proposes to submit the plan to the Forestry Commission for their approval by March 2018.
Fiona Le Garsmeur, Parks Projects Officer
Brighton & Hove City Council