Chase and Penyard Woods Forest Plan
Chase Wood and Penyard Wood lie about a mile to the southwest and southeast (respectively) of the town centre of Ross on Wye in Herefordshire. Chase is just under 86 hectares and Penyard just under 128 hectares, giving the block a total area of 213.19 hectares. The block is 66% broadleaf and 31% coniferous, with 4% open space created as a result of recent felling and coppicing. In terms of age structure, Penyard is more varied, although there are three peaks of planting in the 1960s, 1980s and early 2000s. Chase also has a peak in the 1960s, but 60% of the trees (the large band of oaks which dominates the western and southern slopes) date from the 1930s.
Chase Wood lies within the Wye Valley AONB, with Penyard just outside it, and both woods are classed as PAWS (Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites). Two Scheduled Monuments are located within the woods – Penyard Castle, the main part of which is on Forestry England land – and Chase Wood Camp, which is on neighbouring land, but has features which extend onto Forestry England land. Biodiversity records include dormice, bats, firecrest and goshawk.
Both woods are freehold and are used extensively by local people. Public rights of way (including the Wye Valley Walk national trail) extend into the woods from nearby Ross on Wye and Weston under Penyard.
The aims of management in Chase and Penyard Woods are:
- generate timber to suit a variety of current / changing markets.
- increase resilience to future changes in climate and pests and diseases.
- improve ecological condition and restore ancient woodland.
- protect the historic environment.
- provide opportunities for informal public use and enjoyment.
What we’ll do
One of the long-term goals is to remove most of the non-native conifers, which will be achieved through thinning (removal of the conifers from mixed stands where they grow with broadleaves) and clearfelling of pure conifer stands as they reach economic maturity.
In order to be resilient to future changes in climate and threats from pests and diseases, Chase and Penyard need to be diverse – in terms of species, structure and ecology. Structural diversity will be increased through variations in thinning regimes and patterns, and through coppicing some crops, felling others, and retaining some individuals to become veterans. We will increase species diversity with a portfolio of restock methods – allowing some areas to regenerate naturally, and planting others with mixtures of species.
Projects we will undertake during the Forest Plan period include:
- sweet chestnut coppicing in Penyard to generate wood for the fencing materials market;
- gradual removal of conifers from both woods to restore areas of native woodland;
- creation of irregularly spaced and shaped open glades along the main track (ride) through the oaks in Chase; and
- restoration of the pond in Chase.