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Chiddingfold Forest Plan

About

Chiddingfold Forest covers a block of woods spanning 840 hectares and lies to the North-East of Chiddingfold village. The woodlands form a core area within the West Weald Landscape Partnership Project which spans a broad swathe of countryside within the Surrey and West Sussex boundary. Small sections of the forest are also located within the South Downs National Park and the Surrey Hills Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty (ANOB). The wood contains a large proportion of Broadleaved species including significant numbers of Oak, Birch and Ash trees.

The woodlands are held and managed by the Forestry Commission under a combination of freehold and leasehold management agreements. Public access is only encouraged in the areas held by the Forestry Commission under a freehold, as the lease agreements do not permit access other than on public rights of way and in the leasehold areas the sporting rights are reserved by the landowner. A section of Tugley Wood (Oakenwood Copse) is under lease to the Butterfly Conservation charity. Sidney Wood is owned by the Forestry Commission, however, and allows public access through a system of permits for recreation activities including walking, dog walking, cycling and horse riding.

A significant proportion of Chiddingfold is designated a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), approximately 502 hectares of the total 840 hectares spanned by the whole site. The SSSI areas occur in a fragmented arrangement and cover the predominantly Broadleaf woodlands. The forest does not contain any scheduled monuments.

Objectives

The objectives of management here are to:

• Maintain and increase the native composition of ancient semi-natural woodland.

• Initiate restoration of planted ancient woodland sites to native and honorary native woodland.

• Maintain and enhance the favourable conservation status of a nationally important wildlife site.

• Maintain and enhance where possible the recreational capacity of the woodland.

• Maintain and increase the species and age diversity of the woodland.

• Provide a regular supply of quality timber to support local employment and local timber processing industries.

What we’ll do

The operations will run from April 2016 to April 2026. During this time 3.7 hectares of Conifer trees will be felled and then replaced with replanted or natural regenerated mixed trees. 7.2 hectares of mixed woodland will be managed under a low impact silvicultural system and 302.1 hectares of PAWS restoration will be managed under a low impact silvicultural system also. While 0.4 hectares of wet woodland will continue to be managed as will 480.6 hectares of native broadleaf woodland which will be managed under a low impact silvicultural system. 5.9 hectares of establishing woodland, 10.8 hectares of open space and 16.2 hectares of research plantation will continue to be managed. As will 2.7 hectares of rotational scrub, 3.5 hectares of seed orchard and 1.2 hectares of car parks and ponds.

The species composition will also change from 65% broadleaf, 19% conifer, 12% mixed woodland and 4% permanent open habitat in 2016 to 97% broadleaf, 1% mixed woodland and 2% permanent open habitat in 2026.