Mid Devon Forest Plan
The Mid Devon Forest Plan area is made up of four separate forest blocks totalling 249 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 Oldridge in the west, 1 miles from Tedburn St Mary, through Whitestone and Stoke Woods to Huxham Brake in the east all on the outskirts, and within 2 miles of Exeter.
The public forest here is a predominantly ancient woodland having been planted with conifer to address the national timber shortage of the early Twentieth Century. The area is now known to produce high quality Douglas fir which makes up the majority of the trees here supplemented primarily with beech and larch. Areas of remnant ancient semi-natural woodland do remain and are made up of oak and birch with ash and 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 is a rich for ecology and includes NVC W17 Priority Lowland Mixed Deciduous (oak/birch) Woodland within Stoke Woods which is habitat in part for dormice, raptor and otter as well as other Priority Lowland Mixed Deciduous Woodland types which are also important for habitat and fauna species.
The vast majority of the Plan area is Open Access, confirmed by the Countryside Rights of Way Act. The exception being Whitestone which is limited to de facto access due to it being leased from another landowner. Stoke Woods is the main focus of informal recreational activity and is particularly nice place to picnic, walk or run given its close proximity to the city of Exeter, good path network and fine views over the Exe Valley.
The core aim of the Plan is to deliver the 50 Year Vision by producing woodlands with increased conservation, recreation and landscape benefits whilst maintaining a viable timber output. The long term aim of management is to continue to sustainably produce timber whilst providing a forest rich in wildlife, attractive to people and increasingly resilient to climate, pests and diseases.
The social, economic and environmental objectives of management are:
- The continued production of sustainable and marketable woodland products
- The protection and enhancement of woodland and open habitats and their associated species.
- The restoration and management of the Site of Special Scientific Interest.
- To protect and enhance areas of Ancient Semi-natural Woodland and restore areas of PAWs in line with ‘Keepers of Time’.
- The provision and maintenance of recreation facilities.
- The delivery of well-designed proposals that comply with landscape design principles in keeping with the local landscape character.
- The conservation, maintenance and enhancement of cultural and heritage assets .
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.
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 intimately 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 2028 are summarised below.
Clearfelling of 15.6ha of conifers and 3.5ha of broadleaves. Restocking/regeneration of 11.9ha conifers and 7.2ha of broadleaves.
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 51% conifer, 45% broadleaf and 4% open space in 2018 to 45% conifer, 51% broadleaf and 4% open space in 2028.