Deer Park Forest Plan

Deer Park Forest Plan


Deer Park is an area of 312.1 hectares of mixed woodland that feed down into the Rye Valley in the south-west corner of the North York Moors National Park. The wood was leased from the Duncombe Park Estate in 1958 and the conifer stands were established by the Forestry Commission between 1961 and 1976. There are significant areas of ancient semi-natural woodland (ASNW) and plantation on ancient woodland sites (PAWS). The wood is comprised of four distinct blocks ranging between 60 and 87 hectares situated on Scawton Moor running down to the River Rye.

Pine is the dominant species group (Scots and Lodgepole) at 32% of the overall area, with Scots pine accounting for over 80% of this. Larch and hemlock/cedar are the next largest conifer groups, each accounting for 10% by area. Spruce and fir species are minor components. Broadleaf species occupy 27% of the area, with both birch and mixed broadleaf each accounting for a third of this figure. Beech is also present with oak, sycamore, ash and alder as minor components.

The woods are an integral part of the well-wooded landscape of upper Ryedale. There are four main fingers of woodland, covering land from the river edge up steep-sided gills and onto more flat moorland to the south.  On the valley slopes the woods are mainly mixed or broadleaved in nature, becoming mostly coniferous on the moors. 

These are leasehold woodlands where the owner has retained sporting rights and exercises these through an active pheasant shoot. Other than a bridleway that runs between Seamer Howl Wood and Hagg Wood, the leasehold status of the woods means they are not registered as open access under CROW legislation and there is no formal public access.

Deer Park Woods rich ecological value is closely associated with the areas of ancient woodland and high density of veteran trees. Castle Hill SSSI is a remnant of lowland wood-pasture and is designated for this reason. Ryedale Windypits SSSI is designated for the geological significance of its underground structure, its archaeological interest, and the biological importance of the caves for bat conservation.


The plan aims to increase the proportion of native broadleaf cover across the woodland, particularly across the areas of PAWS.


  • Maintain and manage recently restored veteran trees to improve their condition status and contribute to the restoration of Lowland Wood-Pasture.
  • Ensure SSSI’s and SAM’s are maintained in target condition, to be measured by Natural England and English Heritage.
  • Increase the diversity of age structure by selecting the most appropriate felling pattern and silvicultural system throughout the wood.
  • Maintain the wooded character within the Ryedale limestone dales and enhance the geometric form of plantations across Southern Hambleton limestone hills.


  • Consider the selection of alternative main tree species that will contribute toward timber production where productivity can be improved.
  • Maintain a sustainable supply of timber from site-appropriate conifer and broadleaf species.


  • Ongoing recognition of the sporting potential of the woodland to the Duncombe Park Estate.

What we'll do

The current plan outlines proposals for sustainable harvesting of timber through felling and thinning until the year 2021.

We will continue to sustainably harvest timber both from clearfell and thinnings, and where appropriate develop broadleaf stands to increase their contribution to timber production. These operations will be planned and controlled to ensure due regard for all other objectives of management.

The adoption of Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) across the wooded dales, will contribute toward the creation and retention of species and structurally diverse woodlands within the landscape.

The planned areas of conifer, broadleaf and permanent open space creation during the ten years to 2021 are summarised in the table:

Habitat type (based on principal species established)Area (ha)% of total area
Temporary open space (clearfell)6.922
Agricultural, heathland, and planned open areasNilNil

We will Protect and, where appropriate, enhance all known sites of archaeological and ecological importance and all sites, regardless of their designation, will receive the same level of care during the planning and execution of forest operations. The operational planning system will ensure they are recognised and the proper measures for their protection are in place before work begins.

We will increase the diversity of species and age structure that will maintain and improve favourable habitat for identified target species.

This table illustrates how the plan will progress:


Area - hectares

%age of total area

2007 – 2011 Clearfell



2012 – 2016 Clearfell



2017 – 2021 Clearfell



Continuous Cover



Minimum Intervention