Bernwood Forest Plan

Bernwood Forest Plan


Bernwood Forest lies to the north-east of Oxford. It is made up of three woodland blocks: Shabbington and Chinkwell woods in Buckinghamshire and Waterperry wood in Oxfordshire. Shabbington and Waterperry forest are held under freehold providing 465ha of public access land. Chinkwell which totals 36ha is privately owned and leased by Forestry England to manage for timber. Public access is not permitted in Chinkwell with the exception of the public right of way from Brill and Dorton.

The majority of Shabbington and the whole of Waterperry are designated SSSI’s totalling an area of 443 hectares. The Shabbington woods complex SSSI covers 306 hectares and was designated in 1981. The special interest lies in the rich insect fauna associated with compartment edges and the system of open rides. Waterperry wood SSSI covers 137 hectares and was designated in 1955. The special interest lies mainly in it’s insect fauna, containing nationally rare and uncommon species as well as NVC W10 habitat.

Ancient Woodland makes up 440ha (88%) of the plan area of which 368ha is plantation on ancient woodland sites (PAWS) and 72ha is ancient semi natural woodland (ASNW). ASNW sites have been woodland for several centuries with trees forming the canopy having arisen naturally rather than through planting. These are important because the species composition, woodland structure and distribution of trees are more diverse and natural, reflecting the site’s history and ecology. These have developed over such long periods of time that they are not present in more recent woodlands and if lost are irreplaceable. A key objective of the plan is to gradually revert the woodlands to ASNW. However, some conifer will be retained in small blocks to support raptors.


The management objectives for Bernwood are:


  • To protect and enhance areas of ancient semi-natural woodland and restore planted ancient woodland (PAWS) to native species.
  • To protect, maintain and enhance designated sites.
  • To protect, maintain and enhance priority habitats.
  • To protect, maintain and enhance priority species.
  • Maintain and improve cultural and heritage value of the land by protecting sensitive heritage features highlighted through the Operational Site Assessment (OSA)* process. 


  • Create a pleasant natural environment for the public to enjoy outdoor recreation in a rural woodland setting.
  • Support responsible public use of open access land by maintaining recreational facilities including the car park and walking trail.
  • Increase area managed through lower impact silvicultural systems to protect and enhance the internal and external landscape.

Forest resilience 

  • Maintain the land within our stewardship under Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®)/PEFC certification by meeting standards detailed in UKWAS fourth edition.
  • Improve economic resilience of our forests by increasing species diversity through restock programmes and mixed silviculture practices, to protect future timber supplies and biomass.


  • To generate income from the marketing of timber products whilst ensuring operations take place at a scale and frequency in keeping with the surrounding landscape

What we’ll do

The Bernwood plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking for the next 20 years, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2029.

For further information regarding species composition and the future management of Bernwood, please refer to the full plan below.