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North Kent Downs Forest Plan

About

This Forest Design Plan (FDP) covers Forestry England’s woodlands in the Kent Downs, (incorporating West Wood, Park Wood, Elhampark, Beveridge Bottom, Covert & Covet Woods, Denge & Eggringe Woods) which total 1598 hectares. Denge Wood is a new plan with the remaining being revisions of plans dating from 1995, 1996 and 2000. The primary purpose of the management plan is to set out our management proposals for the next thirty years.

The Kent Downs woods are freehold woodland between Canterbury, Ashford and Folkestone. Most of the plan woods sit at an altitude of approximately 140 metres, rising to 180 metres in the southern part of King’s Wood and West Wood. They are prominent in the landscape along the top of the North Downs ridge and comprise large blocks surrounded by agricultural land. They all lie within the Mid Kent and East Kent Downs landscape character areas.

There are eighteen Scheduled Monuments in these woods, mostly burial mounds but with one long barrow in King’s Wood. All Scheduled Monuments have an individual management plan renewed every five years. Almost the whole area of the Kent Downs FDP is classed as ancient woodland, of which approximately 35 hectares is ASNW and 1525 hectares is PAWS. None of the woods is classed as SSSI, but two woods have SSSIs against the boundary. To the south of Eggringe Wood is unit 21 of the Wye and Crundale Downs SSSI (favourable condition) and to the east of Elhampark Wood is Parkgate Down SSSI (favourable condition).

The woods are widely used by dog walkers, school parties, for husky training, orienteering, rallies, horse riding and by the East Kent Hunt. Most users access the woods by car or coach. All of the woods are dedicated for open access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act of 2000.

Objectives

The management objectives for North Kent Downs are:

Environment

  • Restoration of PAWS is underway and progress has been in line with the plan proposals.
  • Thinning and felling has taken place as planned to provide habitat change and diversity for a range of species.
  • The ride network has been maintained and improved and has features which can support the key species.
  • Minimum intervention areas are in place and providing suitable habitat for key species.
  • The condition of the sites for butterflies (Grade A) under the SAP has been maintained or improved.
  • The small sites identified for their importance for other BAP habitats and species have been maintained in suitable condition.
  • Records of cultural/archaeological interest within the woodland have been improved. The existing cultural/archaeological interest has been protected and conserved.

Community

  • The area of woodland with public access has been maintained.
  • The woodland provides high quality accessible natural greenspace and people have been encouraged to use and enjoy the woodland for leisure purposes and healthy living.

Finance

  • Forestry England woodland continues to provide examples of best practice for appropriate and sustainable management and utilisation of England’s woodland resource.
  • An output of sustainably produced wood products has been maintained for local and national markets.
  • Local contractors have been encouraged to tender/bid for forestry contracts.
  • Efforts have been made to cut the increment in the forest, including active marketing of the coppice cants.
  • Productive stands have been established to maintain sustainability.
  • Management proposed in this FDP has taken place as intended and is meeting the needs of the organisation.

What we’ll do

The North Kent Downs plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking for the next 20 years, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2022.

For further information regarding species composition and the future management of the North Kent Downs please refer to the full plan below.