Shobdon and Wigmore Forest Plan
This Plan covers the woodlands of Shobdon, Mere Hill, Sned Wood, Ballsgate, Paysure, Oakley and Barnett Woods and Wigmore Rolls; in an area that is undulating and tranquil. The valleys are narrow and deeply incised with woodland occurring on the steepest of slopes.
The plan accounts for nearly 850Ha of mixed coniferous and broadleaved woodland within North Herefordshire and is situated 1.5 miles from the Welsh border.
The woodlands are all within the Public Forest Estate of England with the majority being Freehold. Only Paysure Wood, Ballsgate Wood and the eastern tip of Shobdon wood are leasehold and amounts to 26Ha.
There are some 700Ha of conifer cover occurring on Ancient Woodland sites within the plan area. Of this figure over a quarter has already been restored to a native broadleaf. The remaining areas contain between 21% and 80% or more of conifer species and by 2027 the plan looks to restore a further 60Ha of conifer to native broadleaf.
The plan is high in conservation interest too and enjoys habitats ranging from wet woodland to semi-natural woodland, native broadleaf coppice, numerous notable veteran trees and a diverse mixture of indigenous ground flora. All supporting a wide range of flora and fauna including dormice, bats, lepidoptera, adders and schedule one birds as well as contributing to the management of the River Lugg SSSI that runs down the steep sided valley between Sned Wood and Mere Hill that supports Otter, native freshwater White-Clawed Crayfish, Caddisflies, Shad and Twaite.
RSPB records also indicate the woodlands are important for the likes of Wood Warbler, Pied Fly Catcher, Redstart and Tree Pipit.
Aims and Objectives
The plan aims to protect and enhance existing habitats through sustainable management that is in context with the wider landscape and character whilst providing a sustainable flow of wood products to market throughout the plan duration. The objectives of the plan are:
· Deliver well-designed forests in keeping with the local landscape character.
· To protect, enhance and restore areas of ancient woodland in line with the 2005 ‘Keepers of Time’ policy.
· Protect and enhance woodland and open habitats and their associated species. (including Wood White, White Letter Hairstreak, dormice and reptiles)
· The protection and enhancement of veteran trees/trees of special interest (TSI) and recruitment of future generations of veteran trees/TSI.
· The continued production of sustainable and marketable woodland products.
· To conserve, maintain and enhance 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 2027.
Crops will be managed for a mixture of objectives including timber production through the use of clearfelling and restocking supported with natural regeneration of native species. Some areas will be managed using continuous cover forestry prescriptions so as to create a diverse and resilient forest structure for the future.
The plan makes provision for the removal of trees to enable an improved provision of open space habitats, especially in Mere Hill, Sned Wood and Wigmore. Implementation and maintenance of an environmental corridor network will continue to increase the diversity of habitat and the quality of internal landscaping. Those on highly visible external edges will be restocked sympathetically to create a graded edge between the wider landscape and high forest.
The planned areas of clearfelling, restocking and permanent/ transient open space creation during the ten years to 2027 are summarised in the chart below.
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 proportions of conifer and broadleaved woodland and open space at the beginning of the plan period are shown in the bar chart. The increase in native broadleaves and open space expected within the plan period and over time is indicated in the middle and right hand columns of the chart.