Forest operations at Milkwall

Forest operations at Milkwall

Updated 13th September 2023

Paused Contract

The contract for the felling of diseased larch in Milkwall Inclosure has paused temporarily whilst we continue to work with National Grid to secure the powerline shutdowns required to complete the work. This is one of the many constraints that the Beat Forester has to work around to complete a felling contract as well as weather and ecological considerations.

An extension to the Plant Health Notice has been granted so that this felling can be completed outside of the original time period.

When the works resume, it will impact some of our trails and access points, including Scarr Bandstand car park and Darkhill car park. This page provides more information about the work we are doing and why.

What is happening?

We are working to remove trees infected with Phytophthora ramorum.

You will notice a significant operational presence in the woodland with banks persons, harvesting machinery, signage and timber stacks. We do our best to use existing extraction routes to minimise the damage to the forest floor, which is inevitable with the scale of machinery that must be used. This will be reinstated where necessary on completion of the work.

Harvesting contracts can sometimes be quite drawn out and work may stop for some time due to the many constraints that we have to work around. So please bear with us as we carry out this work with the aim of minimising inconvenience to all site users.

What is Phytophthora Ramorum?

Phytophthora ramorum is an algae like organism called a water mould. It causes extensive damage and death to more than 150 plant species, including some forest species.

Larch trees, which were widely planted for the timber market, are now known to be particularly susceptible, and large numbers have been affected. It is sometimes referred to as 'Larch Disease'. Phytophthora ramorum does not just affect Larch, it can also affect European sweet chestnut trees and other species.

There is no cure for Phytophthora ramorum disease available at the moment. The best available scientific advice is to remove trees infected with the disease.

Preventing and minimising spread

Phytophthora ramorum spores can be spread over long distances via mists, air currents and watercourses. It can also be spread on footwear, dogs' paws, tools, equipment, and vehicle wheels, including buggies and mountain bike wheels. 

Visitors to the forest can help to minimise the spread of tree diseases by brushing soil, mud and leaf debris off your footwear and wheels of bicycles, baby buggies and wheelchairs between each visit. 

There are additional biosecurity requirements for people who work in or manage woods and forests, such as foresters, forestry workers, tree surgeons and timber hauliers.

Can I still visit this woodland?

Both Scarr Bandstand car park and Darkhill car park will be closed whilst these works take place.

The most important thing for us is to keep the public, our staff, and contractors safe. We will have safety and operational signage displayed, diversions, closures, and banks persons in position where needed. This is for your safety, whether you can see or hear us working, it is important you read and listen to all instructions very carefully and obey all instruction.

Forestry work is very hazardous. A falling tree can weigh several tonnes and hit the ground at nearly 60mph. If a harvesting machine chainsaw snaps, it can fly through the forest like a bullet.

What about the wildlife?

Well managed forests are able to support more wildlife, and harvesting trees is an important part of a sustainable forest lifecycle. Before we start any forestry work, we carry out ecological surveys to check for species such as birds, mammals, rodents, invertebrates, native plants such as bluebells and fungi. We also consider these against complex factors including tree health, how the ground slopes, soil condition, and likely rainfall when planning work that will support our long-term management plan. 

While working, we continue to check for wildlife and will adapt, pause or suspend work if we find any animal that must be protected.

Will you be replanting?

Yes we are, the ground will be prepared for restock by what is known as ‘brash raking’. This is where the brash is raked into rows with a machine to leave bare ground in which to plant the trees. Replanting is planned for the winter 2024/2025.

Diverse forests are more resilient so we are increasing the diversity of tree species we plant so the nation’s forests are better protected from pests, diseases and the effects of a changing climate.

A range of conifers, used for timber, as well as native broadleaf species tolerant to disease have been chosen for this site, species such as Penduncular oak, Japanese red cedar, Douglas fir and Wild Service tree.All of the trees are grown from seed in our own nurseries which have the highest biosecurity restrictions.

Whilst the trees are young, the replant area will need to be fenced to protect them from wildlife such as deer, boar, rabbits and sheep.

Will you reinstate the tracks and paths?

Yes, when the works have been completed any necessary reinstatement of the main paths will take place. Brash will be removed and significant rutting will be flattened out. Some desire lines may remain blocked but over time new paths will be created by people and animals using the woods.

What happens to the timber once its felled?

The felled timber can be used but it must be done by following agreed biosecurity measures. A special movement licence is required before the timber can be transported, and it can only be taken to a sawmill which has a processing licence.

More information on Phytophthora ramorum

Can be found on our webpage:

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