Haughmond and Shawbury Forest Plan
The Haughmond and Shawbury plan area consists of 323 hectares of woodland in two discrete blocks.
Before being planted with trees, most of Shawbury’s 104 hectares was open land. The site lies six miles northeast of Shrewsbury, and is a focal point within a gently rolling agricultural landscape, with a network of rides used by local people for informal recreation. Shawbury now comprises 59% coniferous woodland (61 hectares), much of which is dominated by pines, and 35% broadleaves (36 hectares), with 6 hectares of open space.
Haughmond Hill dominates the landscape four miles to the east of Shrewsbury. It is a popular visitor site, with a car park, café and several waymarked trails, one of which leads to the summit with its outstanding views of the surrounding countryside. The 219 hectares of land managed by Forestry England consists of the main block, as well as the adjacent Abbey Wood, and more recently acquired Holly Coppice. Overall, Haughmond Hill is 45% coniferous woodland (99 hectares) – again with plenty of pines – and 32% broadleaves (70 hectares). There is a very small area of ancient semi-natural woodland, and almost 50 hectares (23%) recorded as open space or unplantable.
Within Haughmond Hill, Haughmond Camp is a scheduled monument and the southern section of Abbey Wood contains archaeological features that are associated with neighbouring Haughmond Abbey. In terms of conservation and biodiversity interest, there are several trees of special interest (TSIs), European protected species including bats and great crested newts have been recorded in association with the ponds and riparian (water) areas, and there are areas of favourable dormouse habitat in Shawbury.
Recent management has focused on:
- Several areas of conifers have been clearfelled – some have been restocked with conifers and others with a mixture of conifers and broadleaves. This increasing variety will improve the resilience of the woodland in future years.
- Broadleaf areas have been thinned selectively to increase the diversity of age and species and to enable natural regeneration in the gaps
- Open space has been maintained and, in places, increased – ridesides have been cleared to provide habitat for butterflies and other insects, and the transient heathland-like open space at Shawbury is ideal for reptiles
- Selected trees are being kept beyond economic maturity in order to become future veterans (TSIs) and to provide deadwood habitat.
- Areas around streams and ponds have been opened up
- Vegetation at the sides of trails has been cut back to lighten them up and improve the internal landscape.
- Facilities at Haughmond Hill have been managed to a high standard, and continue to provide for the increasing numbers of visitors.
What we’ll do
The forest plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking over several decades, and we currently have felling licence approval for operations up until 2023. At that point, we will renew the management plan, looking for further opportunities to deliver our objectives. In the meantime, thinning will continue, if appropriate at the time, on a five year cycle for conifers and 10 year cycle for broadleaves.
As is usual when a forest plan is renewed and refreshed, priorities will be re-evaluated, considering the pressure of delivering quality commercial timber in the face of pests and diseases (such as red band needle blight which affects the pine), poor soil conditions and drainage issues which limit growth, and increasing recreational pressure from nearby urban centres, as visits to the forest become ever more popular.