Current forestry operations

Updated 9th February 2023

Managing heathland

The New Forest has a mosaic of habitat with large areas of lowland valley mires that have great conservation value because they are home to lots of rare and special species. These areas have been maintained through prescribed burning and centuries of commoners grazing livestock on the gorse and heather that helps to maintain the heathlands. This practice continues today and is combined with our annual programme of prescribed burning that removes invading seedlings and produces fresh growth for many plants. Prescribed burning also helps protect the Forest from wildfires in the warmer months, when they can be devastating for wildlife. All of our maintenance activities on the open forest, including prescribed burning, are agreed with Natural England in advance.

We’re very aware how important it is to protect our rare heathlands and the peat underneath. Our work is focused only on burning vegetation on the surface and this is done very rapidly to avoid the heat going down into the soil. Also, this is only done in priority habitat areas and those at particular risk of wildfires, and on a very small scale – less than 3% of the open forest in any one year.

Felling trees

A key part of our work is actively managing the land to make sure the local woodlands that we know and love can thrive for many years to come. There is often a perception that tree felling is bad, but it’s a vital part of good woodland management. Harvesting trees provides the wood that we all use in our daily lives and promotes healthy forests.

It’s easy to focus on tree felling, but that’s only one part of the cycle of growing trees. Over the last six years we have planted over 100,000 trees here in the New Forest, carefully matching the right species to the right location to help its chances of growing and thriving. 

Current work areas include:

Growing trees for home-grown timber means that they have to be managed all year round.  It's vital that our gateways are kept clear for forestry vehicles working on site and emergency vehicles. Warning signs will be in place around the work sites and it’s important that you pay attention to signs your own safety, that of others. Work is only taking place Monday - Friday.

  • Following the removal of Corsican pine trees from Matley Ridge, on the opposite side of the road from Matley Campsite, we're restoring this area and removing tree stumps and raking up, and burning the debris to help it on its journey back to heathland.

  • We’ll be working near Turf Hill until the end of February to remove some of the remaining conifer trees and return the area back to heathland.

  • Felling work is completed at Dunces Arch, near Ashurst. Please look out for large machines uplifting the log stacks soon.

A place for everyone to enjoy

Sometimes the New Forest’s rare and special habitats need our help to keep them in good condition and in some cases this requires removing trees to restore them. The country needs trees to help us combat climate change, but we also need to protect our most precious wildlife and habitats.  Choosing to restore these special habitats in the New Forest makes sense because the habitat’s plants and the system of livestock grazing needed to maintain the habitat is already here.  We have to be sure that we have the right trees in the right places.  This is why we are actively seeking to expand and replant our forests across the nation and focus restoration of the rare open habitats within the New Forest.

Forestry England provides sustainable managed woodlands and thinning the trees regularly is a key element of good woodland management.  It provides opportunities to open up of shaded and wet tracks, making them more accessible to people on foot, and benefits wildlife including valuable pollinating species. It will be noticeable where machinery has been, however work to repair tracks will take place as soon as possible after all tree felling has finished.