Swannacott and Bradridge Forest Plan
The Swannacott and Bradridge Forest Plan area is made up of two woodlands, Swannacott and Bradridge which are mainly on the edge of mudstone, shale and sandstone plateaus in the upper reaches of the River Neet (Swannacott) which flows north into the Bristol Channel and the River Tamar (Bradridge) which flows south into the English Channel.
The Swannacott and Bradridge woodlands are situated on the border between Cornwall and Devon to the north of Launceston in the parishes of Boyton, North Tamerton, Week St Mary and Whitstone. The local authority is Cornwall County Council.
In earlier times the woods would have been managed as traditional oak coppice with standards to produce charcoal and building materials for local use or as grazed agricultural land. Acquired by the Forestry Commission in the late 1950s and cleared of the much of the broadleaves they were planted with conifers (Douglas fir, Sitka spruce and Japanese larch).
Most of the Nation’s forests here are ancient woodland having been planted with conifer to address the national timber shortage of the early Twentieth Century. The area is now known to produce quality fir and spruce log which makes up the majority of the tree cover supplemented primarily with beech and larch. Areas of remnant ancient semi-natural woodland do remain and are made up of oak and birch with ash. Most of the areas are actively managed to provide timber for local and national businesses, and to improve the quality of the remaining trees.
The Plan area is ecologically valuable with habitat such as Priority Lowland Mixed Deciduous Woodland used by bats and raptor as well as other important flora and fauna species.
All of the Plan area is freehold and has been designated Open Access, confirmed by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. The woodlands are quietly popular with local walkers and riders.
The core aim of the Plan is to begin to progress the 50 Year Vision by producing woodlands which continue to sustainably produce timber whilst providing a forest rich in wildlife, attractive to people and increasingly resilient to climate change, pests and diseases.
The social, economic and environmental objectives of management are:
• The continued production of sustainable and marketable woodland products.
• Protect and enhance woodland and open habitats and their associated species.
• To protect, enhance and restore areas of ancient woodland in line with the ‘Keepers of Time’ policy.
• The provision and maintenance of recreation facilities.
• Deliver well-designed forests that both protect and enhance the internal and external landscape in keeping with the local landscape character.
• 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 license approval for operations up until 2031.
The Plan makes provision to develop the complex and dynamic plantation compositions of quality fir and spruce shelterwood forest. Areas identified as Plantation on Ancient Woodland Sites 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 enclosed farmed and wooded landscape. Implementation and maintenance of environmentally minded corridor 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 2030 are summarised below.
Clearfelling of 9.85ha conifers and 3.43ha broadleaves. Restocking/regeneration of 7.29ha of broadleaves and 2.56ha of 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 64% conifer, 28% broadleaf and 8% open space in 2021 to 50% conifer, 40% broadleaf and 10% open space in 2031.