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Arley Forest Plan

About

Arley Wood is an ancient woodland site that lies just north of the M6 motorway, between Birmingham and Coventry. 

The conifer stands in Arley Wood were planted between 1962 and 1970 and are dominated by Corsican pine, which is now badly affected by Dothistroma needle blight, a pathogen that gradually weakens, and may even kill, the tree, significantly reducing timber yields. The conifers will gradually be replaced by broadleaf species on the former ancient woodland sites.

Arley Wood contains the only known red wood ant community in Warwickshire, and specific management objectives for these have been outlined within the Warwickshire Species Action Plan, including the maintenance of appropriate habitat conditions, such as needle litter around nest sites.

Objectives

The social, economic and environmental objectives of management here are:

  • to continue to grow productive conifers and broadleaves;
  • to introduce a mixture of continuous cover management systems;
  • to utilize natural regeneration to help diversify future stand structure and species diversity, in order to increase resilience in the face of a changing climate, pests and diseases;
  • to maintain existing provision for informal recreation throughout the woodland;
  • to restore broadleaved woodland on sites identified as PAWS (plantations on ancient woodland sites);
  • to manage wood ant sites and associated habitats sensitively;
  • to retain in perpetuity the trees of special interest, and increase the deadwood resource throughout the plan area.

What we'll do

The forest plan describes the approved felling and restocking for the ten years to 2021, with outline proposals for a 50 year period.

The current threat to the primary conifer species (Dothistroma needle blight on Corsican pine) in Arley wood will influence the timing and scale of felling operations. Group felling will take place around ants’ nests to create adequate conditions for an understory of wide spaced conifers to be planted creating a new source of needle litter. 

Existing broadleaved stands will be managed through continuous cover systems to provide a continuity of high forest and increase the deadwood habitat. Open space will be created.

Ongoing thinning and selective felling of both conifers and broadleaves will be carried out in the plan area at five to ten year intervals.

It is proposed that the species composition will change:

  • from 9% broadleaf; 90% conifer; 1% open space in 2011,
  • to 64% broadleaf; 28% conifer; 8% open space in 2061.

Note that the forest plan document contains references to Hay, May, Weston and Waverley Woods, which were part of the previous plan area, before Forestry England underwent a reorganistion.