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Mortimer Forest Plan

About

The Mortimer forest plan area is made up of 1029 hectares in Herefordshire, on the border with Shropshire, and consists of a single large forest block with a number of small outliers, which together have very high natural, social and amenity value.

The forests are predominantly conifers on ancient woodland sites (PAWS), having been planted to address the national timber shortage of the early twentieth century. The area is known to produce high quality Douglas fir and larch, which make up the majority of the trees here, supplemented by hemlock and spruce. Areas of remnant ancient semi-natural woodland do remain and are mainly oak and birch with beech.

The plan area contains a rich cultural heritage, both as a backdrop to the historical town of Ludlow, and with scheduled and unscheduled monuments and veteran trees scattered across the forest.

The plan area contains ecologically important habitats for dormice, raptors and species associated with veteran trees. There is a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the Downton Gorge Special Area of Conservation. The forests are important for a number of nationally important lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), including the rare wood white, as well as adders, newts and bats.

In terms of recreation, the forest is used by walkers, with some limited usage by horse riders and mountain bike riders, usually starting at the car parks at Vinnalls, Whitcliffe and Haye Park.

Objectives

The main aim of the plan is to manage the woodlands with increased conservation and landscape benefits, whilst maintaining substantial timber production, increasing resilience to climate change, pest and disease risks, and offering opportunities for informal recreation.

The social, economic and environmental objectives of management here are:

  • the continued production of sustainable and marketable woodland products;
  • to conserve, maintain and enhance cultural and heritage assets;
  • to protect and restore areas of ancient woodland in line with the ‘Keepers of Time’ policy;
  • the provision and maintenance of recreation facilities;
  • to protect and enhance woodland and open habitats and their associated species;
  • to deliver well-designed proposals that comply with landscape design principles in keeping with the local landscape character.

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 2029.  

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 species composition will change:

  • from 71% conifer, 19% broadleaf and 11% open space in 2019,
  • to 65% conifer, 24% broadleaf and 11% open space in 2029.

Ongoing thinning and selective felling of both conifers and broadleaves will be carried out in the plan area at five to ten year intervals.