Thrunton Beat Forest Plan
Located immediately to the North and East of Rothbury are a number of woodlands managed by Forest Enterprise. In order to put the management of these woodlands in context and rationalise the number of plans across the district a single Forest Plan has been produced to cover all these woodlands. Eight discrete woodlands have been included in this plan (see Table below). In total the forest area is approximately 1700 hectares, ranging in size from the smallest at Debdon Wood (23.9 ha) to Thrunton Wood which is over 1,100 ha. Ownership of this suite of woodlands is represented by a mixture of leasehold and freehold.
The ownership status and respective areas in hectares (ha) are outlined below.
Bluemills Wood: Leasehold, 46.6ha.
Debdon Wood: Leasehold, 23.9ha.
Edlingham Wood: Leasehold/freehold, 269.1ha.
Primrose Wood: Leasehold, 71.3ha.
Swarland: Freehold, 81.9ha.
Thrunton Wood: Leasehold/freehold, 1126.8ha.
Whittingham Wood: Leasehold, 43.1ha.
Wide Hope Wood: Leasehold, 34.1ha.
There are no statutory sites for biological conservation present within the forests; however Whittingham is an Ancient Woodland Site (AWS) recorded as being historically wooded since the 17th century and categorised as a Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site (PAW’s), ancient replanted woodland that has previously been restocked with conifer crops but with remnants of the ancient woodland flora present. The ancient woodland status of Whittingham dictates that there is a presumption for conversion to native species in line with current Forestry Commission Policy.
Historical interest of the plan area is mainly associated with the Scheduled Monuments at Callaly Moor in Thrunton forest. Significant medieval / post medieval remains are located in the local area associated with Callaly Castle and the univallate hillfort and medieval tower to the west of Thrunton. Four scheduled decorated medieval boundary stones are located within Thrunton, 220m SSE, 420m SSE, 900m SE and 1100m SE of Callaly Crag. With the exception of historical designations there are no statutory designations relating to any of the woodlands.
Recreational provision within the forests is mainly limited to Thrunton where a small carpark and a series of waymarked routes are provided. With the exception of Swarland (an important informal recreation resource for the local population of the village) and Edlingham crags (informal climbing), the remaining forests are not used by the general public other than on public rights of way.
Our aim is to create more diverse and resilient woodlands, with a greater range of species and habitats. The objectives of management are:
•Maximise the value of sustainable timber production by felling and restocking with productive mixtures and species best suited to the soils, and by thinning windfirm stands.
•Developing mixed broadleaved areas could provide local woodfuel market opportunities.
•Environmental improvements will be delivered through forest restructuring achieved through felling, thinning and restocking and open space management.
•At restocking, as indicated by the indicative restocking plan, the opportunity is being taken to restock both to mitigate the straight boundaries of the earlier planting, increase the open area, and introduce a wider range of conifer and broadleaf species.
•Ongoing Ancient Woodland restoration in Whittingham.
•Ensure that known features of historical interest are protected and enhanced during the ongoing restructuring of the woodlands and opportunities to identify as yet unknown features are incorporated into operational planning.
•Improve the external attractiveness of the woodlands through restructuring and choice of species and silvicultural systems.
•Maintain the network of public rights of way to a good standard to facilitate public access with consideration to public access during forest operations.
•Maintain access to Edlingham crags for recreational climbing use.
What we'll do
The proposals in this plan will lead to a suite of diverse and resilient woodlands, with a greater range of species and habitats. Substantial areas of alternative conifer species will have been established, and the range of broadleaved species and open habitat will have been extended particularly in areas of Ancient Semi Natural Woodland and adjacent to features of historical significance.
Timber production remains a priority and will continue through a clearfell/restock regime with the focus on Sitka spruce but also with the introduction of a much broader range of conifer species and broadleaves. This strategy will also contribute toward climate change mitigation and long term forest resilience. In more stable sites the area managed through Continuous cover silviculture will have been expanded.
Public use of the forest will continue to be made available with ongoing maintenance of permissive and public routes as appropriate.
The current plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking over several decades, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2027.
For further information regarding species composition and the future management of Thrunton Beat, please refer to the full plan below.