Eastridge and Shelve Forest Plan
Being prominent within the landscape, with the woodlands enjoying the adjacency of The Stiperstones and The Lawley, the Forest Plan nestles in the northern reaches of the Shropshire Hills AONB. To the West of the Plan area are the woodlands of Black Marsh, Shelve and Buxton. Eastridge, Westcott (Huglith) and Gittinshay (Brooks Coppice) are situated centrally within the Plan area and with Lodge Hill lying to the East.
The plan accounts for 482Ha of mixed coniferous and broadleaved woodland within mid Shropshire, is situated just over a mile from the Welsh border and covers less than 1% of the AONB.
The woodlands are all within the Public Forest Estate of England with the majority being Freehold. Only Gittinshay and Black Marsh are leasehold and amount to 99Ha with a further 7ha in Westcott.
There is currently some 175Ha of conifer occurring on Ancient Woodland sites. The bulk of which lies within Eastridge, Westcott and Gittinshay with a mall amount in Lodge Hill. By 2027 the Plan will see reversion of around 40Ha woodland back to a native broadleaf species through a mixture of clearfelling and 15 thinning.
The Plan area is rich in cultural heritage and contains cultural gems such as the closed Lead and Barite mines at Shelve (Roman Gravels) and Westcott (Huglith) that now provide valuable habitats for a variety of wildlife.
Aims and Objectives
The plan aims to protect and enhance existing habitats through sustainable management that is in context with the wider landscape and character whilst providing a sustainable flow of wood products to market throughout the plan duration. The objectives of the plan are:
· Deliver well-designed forests in keeping with the local landscape character.
· To protect, enhance and restore areas of ancient woodland in line with the 2005 ‘Keepers of Time’ policy.
· Protect and enhance woodland and open habitats and their associated species.
· The protection and enhancement of veteran trees/trees of special interest (TSI) and recruitment of future generations of veteran trees/TSI.
· The continued production of sustainable and marketable woodland products.
· To conserve, maintain and enhance cultural and heritage assets.
· The management and restoration of statutorily designated areas such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest/ Special Area of Conservation/Scheduled Ancient Monuments or Key Wildlife Areas.
What We’ll do
The current plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking over several decades, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2028.
Crops will be managed for a mixture of objectives including timber production through the use of clearfelling and restocking supported with natural regeneration of native species. Some areas will be managed using continuous cover forestry prescriptions so as to create a diverse and resilient forest structure for the future.
Due to the threat of disease, the plan will start the process of reducing the quantity of larch through carefully landscaped clearfells that will be restocked with a mixture of conifer and broadleaf.
The plan will also enhance provision of open space habitats, especially in Black Marsh, Shelve and Eastridge. Implementation and maintenance of environmental corridors will continue to increase the diversity of habitat and the quality of internal landscaping.
The planned areas of clearfelling, restocking and permanent/ transient open space creation during the ten years to 2028 are summarised in the chart below.
In addition to these defined operations, ongoing thinning and selective felling of both conifers and broadleaves will be carried out in the plan area at five to ten year intervals.
The proportions of conifer and broadleaved woodland and open space at the beginning of the plan period are shown in the bar chart. The increase in native broadleaves and open space expected within the plan period and over time is indicated in the middle and right hand columns of the chart.