Leighfield Forest Plan
The Leighfield Forest Plan consists of two woodlands blocks, known as Owston and Wardley. They are situated east of Leicester and are bounded by the A606 in the North and the A47 on the south. The plan covers 168.1 hectares, Owston is leasehold and Wardley is freehold. Wardley is managed by the Forestry Commission and is open to access by the public under the Countryside Rights of Way (CRoW) scheme.
The woodlands are predominately broadleaved with a small mix of conifer through both blocks. Both blocks are Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site (PAWS) and approximately half of Owston is Ancient Semi Natural Woodland (ASNW). Owston is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This has its own specific management plan which will be discussed in the plan. There is access into both woodlands by a network of Public Rights of Way (PRoW) and Wardley is dedicated Open Access Land. There are heritage features present in both blocks.
The main objectives for the Leighfield Forest Plan are:
• Demonstrate a structured and sustainable programme of timber harvesting to include infrastructure requirements (roads and main drains).
• Select suitable species and appropriate Silvilcultural techniques to regenerate (either naturally or through planting) commercially productive but more structurally and species diverse and resilient crops.
• Diversify species composition and structure, and plan sympathetically designed and appropriately scaled interventions to improve and maintain the visual integration of the forest into the wider landscape.
• Recognise the location and scale of demand in making appropriate provision for public access.
• Demonstrate appropriate management to maintain the current extent and ecological value of the non-designated priority habitats.
• Make appropriate provision within the Forest Plan for the particular requirements of these sites as detailed in the SSSI Management Plans.
• Identify existing locations of TSIs and demonstrate appropriate management to both maintain the current resource and to recruit future veteran replacements.
• Identify appropriate areas to increase deadwood habitat and propose management to maintain a sustainable resource
What we'll do
The plan details management operations including approved felling and restocking for the 10 years to 2027, with outline proposals for a 50 year period.
The planned areas of clearfelling, restocking and permanent open space creation during the ten years to 2027 are summarised below.
Felling of 1.8ha of conifers and 0.2ha of broadleaves. Coppicing of 9.5ha of broadleaves. Restocking of 2ha of broadleaves.
In addition to the above felling 126ha will be managed as Low Impact Felling Systems (LIS). This will be done through a thinning operation, removing no more than 40% of the stems within any single management unit/ compartment over the plan period. This operation will include; encourage initial seeding, provide sufficient light to boost growth of understorey and ground flora, allow adequate space for the development of crowns and stem form for quality timber and accelerate individual tree growth. This operation will also be supported, where needed by; supplementary planting in order to increase species diversity.
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.