Braydon Woods Forest Plan
The Braydon Woods Forest Plan area consists of three individual forest blocks; Red Lodge, Somerford Common and Webbs Wood. Once part of a much larger Royal Hunting Forest, comprising enclosed woodland, open pasture and settlements, the Braydon Woods Forest Plan area now forms an important woodland resource in a matrix of largely open habitats including improved grassland, small fields and old species rich meadows. This area has woodland cover of only 3%, well below the national average, and as such the Braydon Woodlands are a important feature in the natural landscape. The Public Forest Estate here is predominantly broadleaf species, Red Lodge has a particularly fine crop of oak planted in the 1820’s. Somerford and Webbs both offer a mix of both broadleaf and conifer components albeit with different species compositions. Webbs is predominantly broadleaves with only a small conifer component whilst Somerford Common retains fewer broadleaves and has a more substantial conifer element. Most of the woodlands were planted between 1950 and 1970 (70%) with the p.1820 oak at Red Lodge accounting for a further 15% of the age class structure. None of the plan area falls within SSSI’s however Webbs Wood has a combination of plantation on ancient woodland sites (PAWS) and ancient seminatural
woodlands (ASNW). Webbs Wood has a coniferous non-native component at 13% therefore it can be considered restored, conifer removal will however continue through thinning operations. Red Lodge lies on the western edge of the Great Western Community Forest boundary. Webbs Wood and Somerford Common are freehold woods and as such are designated under the Countryside Rights of Way (CROW) Act, Red Lodge is leasehold and is not CROW dedicated however it has an extensive system of Public Rights of Way (PROW) within it and informal access throughout. Recreational activity is generally low throughout the blocks, usage is generally local walkers, dog walkers and horse riders.
The vision of the plan is to continue to produce woodlands which are economically productive, enhance and conserve biodiversity and the environment and providing woodlands for informal recreation. The long term aim of the Forest Plan area is to produce high quality oak logs from the p.1820 oak at Red Lodge, the plan will aim to promote future high quality oak crops at Somerford Common which is showing considerable potential within some of the
current stands. The plan will look to increase diversity and resilience from pests, diseases and climate change.
The social, economic and environmental objectives of management here are:
- The continued production of sustainable and marketable woodland products.
- The diversification of woodland species and structure for greater ecological and economic resilience.
- To protect and enhance areas of Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland and restore areas of PAWS in line with “Keepers of Time”.
- To conserve maintain and enhance cultural and heritage assets.
- Protect and enhance woodland and open habitats and their associated species.
- The provision and maintenance of recreation facilities.
- Deliver well-designed forests that both protect and enhance the internal and external landscape in keeping with the local landscape character.
What we’ll do
The current plan sets out to outline management proposals including felling and restocking over several decades, with felling license approval for operations up until 2028. Woodlands will continue to be thinned with broadleaves being thinned to form whilst promoting continuous cover forestry. Conifers will be removed within thinning areas specifically within Somerford Common. Although Webbs Wood is now considered restored as it’s broadleaved component is below 20% the opportunity to remove conifers through thinning operations will be sought wherever possible.