Coombs Wood Forest Plan
Coombs Wood is within the North Cumbria Beat of North England Forest District. The woodland which extends to 103 ha lies between Carlisle and Penrith to the east of the A6. The village of Armathwaite is 1km to the north of the woodland with the Eden Gorge comprising the western boundary of the woodland. Coombs Wood is freehold woodland acquired by the Forestry Commission in 1952. Sporting, including fishing rights is in separate ownership.
The Forestry Commission planted the site between 1954 and 1958. This has resulted in a predominantly conifer, even aged woodland the main conifer species being Scots pine, larch and Douglas fir. Western Hemlock and Silver fir is the predominant regenerating conifer and broadleaves predominate adjacent to the river.
Most of the forest is a Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site (PAW’s) or Ancient Semi Natural Woodland (ASNW). The PAW’s designation was introduced after the previous plan was approved in 2006. The ancient woodland status of the forest now dictates that there is a presumption for conversion to native species in line with current Forestry Commission Policy.
The woodland is adjacent to the River Eden which is part of the European Habitats Directive Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). The woodland also includes a geological SSSI, part of the Eden Gorge SSSI which is an excellent example of “cross-bedding” formations.
From a landscape perspective the woodland is an important, integral part of a mixed pastoral and wooded valley landscape. Within an attractive rolling mixed landscape Coombs Wood occupies a prominent position, dominating the eastern bank of the River Eden in this location.
There are no Scheduled heritage features but carved stone faces in the cliffs adjacent to the river Eden at the northern end are an interesting historical feature.
The freehold of Coombs Wood has been dedicated under the Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW), giving open access on foot for all, in perpetuity. The woodland is well used by members of the public, mainly but not exclusively by local people. The recreation facilities are low key, with access into the wood via the public right of way, the forest roads and along with the traditional routes from other locations along the forest boundary.
Our aim is to create a more diverse and resilient woodland, with a greater range of species and habitats. The objectives of management here are:
•Felling proposals are based on the continued thinning of all the forest under a continuous cover regime giving rise to marketable timber to generate a financial return.
•Interventions will involve thinning of the conifer and non-native broadleaf component with the aim to thin the main area of the wood within the next 5 years according to the CCF Management Plan (2016).
•0.5ha of over mature Douglas fir adjacent to the cliff edge will be felled for safety reasons.
•Restoration of ASNW - timing and yield of operations will be guided by how the woodland is responding to change and not be driven by productivity. Re-survey of ASNW planned 2022.
•River Eden SAC – a move away from clearfelling to Continuous cover management throughout the wood will aim to reduce excessive run off of soil particles thus reducing inappropriate sedimentation. CCF management is consistent with the NEFD chemical reduction strategy.
•Maintain attractive woodland both in terms of the internal landscape for the benefit of local users and externally to support the wider landscape value of the Eden valley.
•Maintain and enhance the existing walking routes and maintain links with local communities.
•In conjunction with High Stand, scope exists to minimise disruption to public access by maintaining one of these woodlands without activities whilst the other is being worked thus allowing unconstrained public access in either or both of these woodlands on a consistent basis.
What we'll do
The proposals in this plan continue to build on the success of previous plans to support the management of Coombs Wood. Exotic conifers and non-native broadleaves will continue to be removed from areas of previous ASNW offering timber to markets across the region. Continuous cover management throughout the whole woodland will help to protect soils and safeguard important SAC features. Public access will remain an important objective helping to provide a resource for the local community and visitors into the future.
The current plan outlines management proposals including felling and regeneration/planting over several decades, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2027.
For further information regarding species composition and the future management of Coombs Wood, please refer to the full plan below.