Mortimer Forest Plan

About

The Mortimer Forest Plan area is made up of a single large forest block with a number of small outliers totalling 1029 hectares in Hereford, on the border with Shropshire. As a large individual forest block set within the distinctive cultural landscape they have very high natural, social and amenity value.

The forest managed as part of the public forest estate stretches from Bringewood in the north west, through Whitcliffe, Vinnalls and Haye Park to Gatley in the south.

The public forest here is a predominantly conifer on ancient woodland (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 makes up the majority of the trees here, supplemented by hemlock and spruce. 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 a rich cultural heritage both as a backdrop to the historical town of Ludlow and the scheduled and unscheduled monuments and trees which are scattered across the forest.

The Plan area is a rich for ecology and includes NVC W10 and W16 Priority Lowland Mixed Deciduous (oak/birch and oak/beech) Woodland which is habitat  for dormice, raptor and species associated with veteran trees. The Plan area includes a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest and neighbours the Downton Gorge Special Area of Conservation . The forests are also important for a number of nationally important lepidoptera, including the rare wood white, as well as adders, newts and bats.

The majority of other recreation usage is made up of walkers with some limited amount of usage by horse riders and mountain bike riders usually starting at formal car parks at Vinnalls, Whitcliffe and Haye Park.

Objectives

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 production 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:

- 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 ‘Keepers of Time’.

- The provision and maintenance of recreation facilities.

- 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 planned areas of clearfelling, restocking and permanent open space creation during the ten years to 2028 are summarised below.

Clearfelling of 41ha of conifers. Restocking/regeneration of 9.5ha conifers and 24.5ha native broadleaves and the remaining as open space.  

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