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Updated 30th July 2020

Stoke Woods is a working woodland producing sustainable timber. We are working here from August until the end of October 2020. This page provides more information about the work we're doing.

What is happening?

Sections of the wood where the broadleaf trees have grown very dense will be thinned. Stoke Woods is classified as a Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site (PAWS) which means that we are managing it back to the way it would have been several hundred years ago. By removing selected trees in these areas, we will give native broadleaf trees space to grow to their potential, and let more light onto the forest floor. This improves the habitat for ground flora and the wildlife it supports.

Some of the conifer trees at Stoke Woods have reached maturity and are ready to be cut down for timber. 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. Because Stoke Woods is a PAWS, we won’t replant conifers. We will manage the site to help native broadleaf species such as oak and birch to regenerate naturally.

Can I still visit Stoke Woods?

The most important thing for Forestry England is to keep the public, our staff, and contractors safe. Stoke Woods is still open for you to visit, but we may need to close the car parks and trails at certain times to allow us to work nearby. 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. 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. Stoke Woods is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of the variety of valuable habitats here. This means it has extra legal protection. 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, Stoke Woods is home to dormice and bats, and at least 40 species of woodland birds breed here.

We consider these findings 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.

Where can I find out more?

You can read our full management plan for Stoke Woods in the Mid Devon Forest Plan.