Eggesford and Wistlandpound Forest Plan
The Eggesford and Wislandpound Forest Plan area is made up of numerous separate forest blocks totalling 527 hectares in Devon. As forest blocks set within the intimate wooded valley landscape they have very high natural and landscape diversity and value.
The forests managed as part of the public forest estate stretch from Wistlandpound in the north, 6 miles from Barnstaple, through Shortridge, Dodscott, Bithefin and Winkleigh close to the village of the same name to Eggesford in the south which is 8 miles north of Crediton.
The public forest here is a predominantly conifer on ancient woodland, having been planted to address the national timber shortage of the early Twentieth Century. The Plan area saw the establishment of the Forestry Commission on December 8th, 1919 when the first trees were planted in Flashdown Wood, part of the old Eggesford Estate. The area is now known to produce high quality Douglas fir which makes up the majority of the trees here supplemented primarily with spruce and larch. Areas of remnant ancient semi-natural woodland do remain and are made up of oak and birch with beech. Most of the areas are actively managed to provide timber for local and national businesses, and to improve the quality of the remaining tree crop.
The Plan area contains one Scheduled Monument within Heywood which is a motte and bailey castle situated in a commanding location overlooking the valley of the River Taw. This site is free of tree cover and a popular site of interest.
The Plan area is a rich for ecology and includes NVC W10 Priority Lowland Mixed Deciduous (oak/birch) Woodland which is habitat in part for dormice, raptor and otter as well as NVC W8 Priority Lowland Mixed Deciduous (ash) Woodland in wetter areas which is also important for habitat and water regulation.
The vast majority of the Plan area is Open Access, confirmed by the Countryside Rights of Way Act. The exception being Wistlandpound and Winkleigh which are de facto Open Access due to it being leased from another landowner. The Eggesford and Wistlandpound woodlands are the main focus of informal recreational activity and both are particularly nice places to picnic, walk, run or ride thanks to the river and reservoir side settings, good path network and very large trees.
The core aim of the plan is to produce woodlands with increased conservation and landscape benefits whilst maintaining a viable timber output. The long term aims of management here are to continue the substantial timber product while increasing resilience to climate, pest and disease risks, and to deliver the forest for people and nature.
The social, economic and environmental objectives of management here are to:
- The continued production of sustainable and marketable woodland products.
- To protect, enhance and restore areas of ancient woodland in line with the ‘Keepers of Time’ policy.
- Protect and enhance woodland and open habitats and their associated species.
- To conserve, maintain and enhance cultural and heritage assets.
- Support and enhance the centenary celebrations for the Forestry Commission
- Deliver well-designed forests that both protect and enhance the internal and external landscape in keeping with the local landscape character.
- The provision and maintenance of recreation facilities.
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 2027.
The Plan makes provision to develop the complex and dynamic crop compositions of quality Douglas fir shelterwood forest. Areas identified as PAWS will be managed as mixed woodland to maximise their productive potential, with the aim of a gradual return to native woodland.
The Plan makes provision to ensure proposals are in keeping with the neighbouring intimate wooded landscape. Implementation and maintenance of an environmental corridor system will continue to increase diversity of habitat and internal landscaping.
The planned areas of clearfelling, restocking and permanent open space creation during the ten years to 2027 are summarised below.
Clearfelling of 47ha of conifers. Restocking/regeneration of 28ha of conifers, 13ha of broadleaves and 6ha of open space creation.
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 species composition will also change from 77% conifer, 15% broadleaf and 8% open space in 2017 to 71% conifer, 20% broadleaf and 9% open space in 2027.