Clun Forest Plan
The Clun plan area is made up of ten separate woodlands in total, eight of which are within the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. All are within ten miles of the market town of Craven Arms, Shropshire.
Forestry England land in the area is currently covered by two forest plans: The Onny plan, which is 153 hectares and includes Strefford Wood, Berry Mill, Callow Hill, May Hill and Saddle Hill, and the Bury Ditches plan which comprises the woodland called Bury Ditches along with Blakeridge Wood, Radnor Wood, Walcot Wood and Captain’s Coppice, and covers 641 hectares.
There is a fair amount of variety between the individual woodlands – Strefford and Berry Mill are predominantly native broadleaf woodland, whereas May Hill, Saddle Hill and most of the Bury Ditches area are more dominated by conifers. Overall, the combined plan area is 64% conifer, 26% broadleaves and 10% open. Some areas are designated as plantations on ancient woodland sites (PAWS) and here conifers have been gradually removed, increasing the proportion of broadleaves and restoring the native woodland character.
Most of the woodlands are prominent features within the local landscape, with steep slopes.
There are three scheduled monuments in the plan area – Radnor Camp, Colstey Bank and Bury Ditches Hill Fort, with its fantastic outlook over the surrounding countryside. Also offering spectacular views is the area around Flounders Folly in Callow Hill – although the tower is not a scheduled monument, it is an important feature in the landscape.
In terms of biodiversity, veteran trees occur in most of the woods, notably Strefford Wood and Berry Mill, and both of these woodlands also provide potential dormouse habitat. Goshawks have been recorded in all five of the Bury Ditches woods and in Saddle Hill. Collaboration with the charity Butterfly Conservation has led to many rides being opened up in Blakeridge and Radnor Woods to create habitat specifically for the wood white, a species of high priority for conservation.
The aims of management in the Clun plan area include:
- Restoration of PAWS sites through removal of conifers and replacement with native broadleaves.
- Timber production.
- Diversification of species and habitats, to create opportunities for different species such as the wood white butterfly, and to increase the resilience of our woodlands in the face of anticipated future change.
- Maintenance and enhancement of the scheduled monuments, the internal and external landscape features of the woods.
- Continued provision of opportunities for low key public enjoyment and recreation.
What we’ll do
The current forest plans outline management proposals including felling and restocking over several decades, with felling license approval for operations up until 2024/5. At that point, we will renew the management plan, looking for further opportunities to deliver our objectives and for common ground across all of the sites in order to create a coherent vision for the new plan area, which will cover the current Onny and Bury Ditches woodlands.
In the meantime, thinning will continue, if appropriate at the time, on a five year cycle for conifers and 10 year cycle for broadleaves.