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Eastmoor & Riccaldale Forest Plan

About

Eastmoors and Riccaldale is a 1100.7 hectare mixed broadleaf woodland, situated in the south-west of the North York Moors National Park, due north of the market town of Helmsley and forms part of the York Beat. The land was acquired by the FC during the 1950’s and 1960’s through a collection of long-term leases although by far the largest is with Duncombe Park Estate.

Conifer is the dominant species group at 58% comprised primarily of larch (24%) and pine (21%) with spruce, fir and hemlock. Broadleaves account for 23% of the overall area, dominated mainly by birch (7%) and sycamore (5%) with lesser amounts of ash, beech and oak species. Agricultural land use accounts for 11% of this forest block, the majority of which forms the Snaper Farm Meadow Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

At the start of the previous plan (2000), the forest was largely coniferous in nature, with 64% of the forest area being coniferous, 19% broadleaf cover and 17% open space (11% agriculture). Recent felling and restocking over the past thirteen years has seen a gradual transition with the reduction of conifer and increase of broadleaf cover, as set out in the previous plan.

The car parks at Newgate and Cowhouse Bank provide a popular starting point for walkers and ramblers to utilise the large network of public rights of way that link the surrounding woodland and open access moorland. These are leasehold woodlands where the main freeholder has retained sporting rights and exercises these through an active pheasant shoot primarily through the woods of Riccal Dale.

Eastmoors and Riccaldale forest is home to a wide range of international, national and regionally important species including Schedule 1 birds of prey, declining woodland bird species such as woodcock, willow tit and spotted flycatcher, floristically diverse mire and herb rich grassland and colonies of Northern brown wood ant. In addition Eastmoors and Riccaldale forest contains a rich and regionally important resource of historic features with over 80 unscheduled monuments.

Objectives

The overall plan and long term vision for Eastmoors & Riccaldale Forest is to increase the proportion of native broadleaf cover, particularly across areas of PAWS and areas of high conservation value.

Environmental

Maintain the woodlands contribution to the wooded character within the NYMNPA Tabular Hills-Limestone Hills and Bilsdale-Narrow Moorland Dale character types through the maintenance and development of structural and species diversity.

Ensure scheduled and unscheduled ecological and historic features are maintained in target condition and improved where opportunities arise, to be measured by North York Moors National Park Authority, Natural England, Non Government Organisations and FC systems accordingly.

Conserve veteran trees and in line with climate change projections continue the restoration of PAWS to site appropriate native woodland and associated plant communities.

Economic

In line with climate change projections, maintain a sustainable supply of timber from a more diverse range of site appropriate conifer and broadleaf species.

Social

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

What we’ll do

The Eastmoors and Riccaldale Forest Plan outlines management proposals including felling, thinning and restocking for 11 years until 2029.

All sites, regardless of their designation, will receive the same level of care during the planning and execution of forest operations.

Increase the diversity of tree species and age structure that will maintain and improve favourable habitats for target species and identified habitats. This is particularly beneficial for the range of habitats and species recorded at Eastmoors and Riccaldale.

Watercourses currently identified as moderate or poor overall status through the Water Framework Directive assessment will have their condition improved by replacing existing conifer crops with predominantly broadleaf woodland at the time of regeneration.

Priority will be given to control and progressively remove invasive species (e.g. rhododendron, Himalayan balsam and Western hemlock) across Ancient Woodland Sites and other sites identified as being of High Conservation Value.

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 at Eastmoors and Riccaldale.

The areas of PAWS at Eastmoors and Riccaldale will be restored to the appropriate range of native woodland types where this is influenced by underlying soil nutrient and moisture regimes.

Planned areas for conifer, broadleaf and open space at the end of the plan are outlined in the following table:

Eastmoors and Riccaldale Forest Plan table

This table illustrates how the plan will progress:

Eastmoors and Riccaldale Forest Plan table 2