Peterborough Woods Forest Plan

Peterborough Woods Forest Plan


The Peterborough Woods Forest Plan comprises three blocks of woodland known as Bedford Purlieus, Castor Hanglands and Southey Wood. They are situated to the west of Peterborough around the junction of the A1 & A47 in Cambridgeshire. The 407 hectares covered by the plan is a mixture of freehold and leasehold; managed by the Forestry Commission and open for public access.

The woodlands are a mixture of broadleaf and conifer species. The land area is split between Ancient Woodland (ASNW), Planted Ancient Woodland (PAWS) and areas of secondary undesignated woodland. It also contains Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Natural Nature Reserves (NNR). Bedford Purlieus and Southey have a healthy level of access by members of the public and in addition there are a number of historic ground features and earthworks.


The main objectives for the Peterborough Forest Plan are:


  • Whilst recognising the ecological priorities and sensitivities of these woods, seek opportunities to enhance their commercial productivity by focussing on quality timber production.
  • Select suitable species and appropriate silvicultural techniques to regenerate commercially productive but more structurally species diverse and resilient forests.


  • Make appropriate provision within the Forest Plan for the particular requirements of statutory designated sites as detailed in the NNR and SSSI Management Plans.
  • Ensure that the high archaeological value of Bedford Purlieus is adequately recognised.


  • 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.
  • Make appropriately scaled provision for informal public access to and enjoyment of the woods with reference to the findings of the current Forest District Access Review (particularly in relation to the future intentions for the car park at Southey Wood), where applicable.

What we’ll do

Planned operations within the 10 year period of the plan are summarised below:

  • Felling of 19.7ha of conifers and 7.5ha of broadleaves. 
  • Coppicing of 30ha of broadleaves.
  • Restocking* of 19.7ha of conifers and 37.5ha of broadleaves.

*Restocking refers to that area that may be under planted if conditions are suitable, as well as that area which has recently been clear-felled. It also covers natural regeneration of widened rides and coppiced areas.

The species composition will also change from 16% conifers, 66% broadleaves and 18% open in 2016 to 14% conifers, 66% broadleaves and 20% open in 2065.

All of our forests and woodlands in this Forest District are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council®(FSC®) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). All Forestry England forests and woods are independently certified as sustainably managed, to continue to benefit future generations.

FSC logo and PEFC logo in green