Forestry operations at Witherdon Wood

Updated 15th February 2023

Witherdon is a working woodland producing sustainable timber. We have been carrying out forestry operations in the forest that have now paused. The woodland is open to you to visit but please be aware that contractors are still working on site to collect timber and repairs forest roads. For your safety, please follow all signs and instructions from contractors. We will restart work later in the summer in the areas on this map.

This page provides more information about the work we are doing.

What is happening?

The main purpose of our operation is thinning both mature and young tree crops to improve conditions for the remaining trees to grow on.

By removing carefully selected trees in these areas, we reduce competition for resources such as light, water, and nutrients. This gives allows the remaining trees to grow on to their potential. Thinning is hugely beneficial because it improves the woodland structure by establishing a mosaic of different conditions. This helps various plant species to flourish and further support a diversity of insects and animals. This process is key to improving the biodiversity of our woodlands while also producing sustainable timber.

The work here will produce nearly 9000 tonnes of timber for local and national markets. Our timber is certified as being sustainably produced and is highly sought after.

Can I still visit Witherdon Wood?

The most important thing for Forestry England is to keep the public, our staff, and contractors safe. The wood is open for you to visit but contractors remain on site to collect timber so we ask that you always follow all signs and instructions from staff within the wood during your visit. These are for your safety, whether you can see or hear us working or not. We appreciate your co-operation as this will help us to finish working as quickly as possible. Please also keep all gateways clear for operational and emergency access.

Please be aware that the forest roads have not yet been repaired after machinery access to the forest. They are muddy and uneven in places and puddles may be deep. Please wear appropriate footwear for visiting the forest.

What about the wildlife?

Harvesting trees is an important part of a sustainable forest lifecycle and well managed forests support more wildlife. Witherdon is home to a variety of wildlife, including protected birds and mammals. 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 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.

We continue to check for wildlife throughout the operation 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 Witherdon & West Devon online. Please contact our Community Ranger, Shaun Woodward for further information.