Forestry operations at Savernake Forest

Forestry operations at Savernake Forest

Updated 13th November 2023

Savernake Forest is a working woodland, leased and managed by Forestry England. We are working in several areas of the forest during autumn and winter 2023. This page provides more information about the work we're doing.

What is happening?

We are removing a number of ash trees growing along the A346 at the edge of the forest. These trees are showing more than 50% crown dieback caused by chalara ash dieback, which makes them potentially unsafe due to the risk of dropping limbs or falling entirely. All ash trees showing 50% or more crown dieback within a tree length of the public highway will be felled or otherwise made safe e.g. pollarded. Some trees with advanced decay will be felled and left on the ground to support Savernake’s important dead wood habitat.

At the same time, we are removing some additional trees because they are growing close to veteran trees. This ‘haloing’ gives the veterans more light and space to remain healthy. The understorey of smaller trees and shrubs within five metres of the road will be coppiced to improve visibility along the road.

All the wood products from Savernake Forest is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) as being sustainably produced.

Can I still visit Savernake Forest?

The most important thing for Forestry England is to keep the public, our staff, and contractors safe. The forest is fully open for you to visit and we will work hard to minimise disruption, but there might be times when some access will closed so we can work safely nearby. Temporary traffic signals are in place on the A346 between Postern Hill and Leigh Hill. There are likely to be traffic delays accessing Postern Hill car park and we advise allowing some extra time for your journey.

Please follow all signs, diversions, and closures at all times. These are for your safety, whether or not you can see or hear us working. This will help us to finish working as quickly as possible. Forestry work is very hazardous. A falling tree can weigh several tonnes and hit the ground at nearly 60mph.

What about the wildlife?

Well managed forests support more wildlife, and controlling the spread of pests and diseases is an important part of sustainable forest management. Before we start any forestry work, we carry out thorough ecological surveys to check for species such as birds, mammals, rodents, invertebrates, flora, and fungi. We consider our findings against complex factors including tree health, how the ground slopes, soil condition, and likely rainfall when planning forestry work.

We paused our forestry operations during the summer until the main bird nesting season has come to an end. While working, we continue to check for wildlife and adapt, pause, or suspend work if necessary.

Where can I find out more?

You can read our land management plan for Savernake Forest online. If you have any questions about our work in the Forest, please email us.