Forestry operations at St Audries
St Audries is a working woodland producing sustainable timber. We are working here until early 2021. This page provides more information about the work we're doing.
What is happening?
Sections of the wood where the trees have grown very dense will be thinned. By removing selected trees in these areas, the ones left behind will have more space to grow to their potential. Thinning also lets more light onto the forest floor, which improves the habitat for ground flora and the wildlife it supports.
Some of the conifer trees at St Audries have reached maturity. These areas will be clear felled to remove all the trees at once. Some dead trees will be left standing to provide habitat for invertebrates and bats, and perches for birds of prey. Small branches and broken pieces will be used to build ‘brash mats’ which protect the ground from the heavy harvesting machinery. Some of these areas will be allowed to rest before we replant them. Others will be kept open to create new habitat.
All of the felled trees will provide sustainably produced timber to UK timber mills.
Can I still visit St Audries?
The most important thing for Forestry England is to keep the public, our staff, and contractors safe. We have closed most of the public access through St Audries, including the West Somerset Coast Path, Quantock Greenway, and Coleridge Way. While we’re working here, we recommend visiting nearby Great Wood instead, which has plenty of parking and beautiful walks.
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 support more wildlife, and harvesting trees is an important part of a sustainable forest lifecycle. 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. For example, St Audries is home to birds of prey and reptiles. We tailor the way we work in this woodland to ensure valuable habitats are protected.
We consider the findings from our ecological surveys 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 adapt our work accordingly.
Where can I find out more?
You can read our full management plan for St Audries in the Quantocks Forest Plan.