Wigan Forest Plan

Wigan Forest Plan


The Wigan Forest Plan sets out the long term management objectives for Viridor, Byrom Wood, Windy Bank, Colliers Wood and Barlows Farm, collectively known as the Wigan Forest Plan and covers 328ha of woodland that lies 7km south of Wigan and 21km west of Manchester. 

A forest plan defines the long term vision for a woodland or a collection of woodlands and once approved gives permission for all felling and restock operations in the first 10 years and outlined approval for all the medium term operations (10-50 years).


The main objectives for the Wigan Forest Plan:


  • establish economically and ecologically sustainable crops employing a thinning programme and low impact silvicultural systems and wherever possible make the woodland ecosystem more resilient to the impact of climate change, pests and diseases.
  • establish an appropriate balance between open space and woodland.
  • select suitable species and appropriate silvicultural techniques to regenerate (either naturally or through planting) commercially productive forests.
  • ensure stands are more structurally and species diverse making them more resilient to the impacts from climate change, pests and disease.
  • plan for the impact of Ash Die Back and Phytophthora with the removal of ash and the phased removal of larch. 


  • continue to work with local businesses, volunteer groups and members of the public to provide a wider range of services and facilities on site.
  • 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.
  • maintain existing public access and enhance where possible.
  • conserve features of cultural significance and record on the conservation database.


  • identify key species and sites and make appropriate provision for their requirements.
  • demonstrate appropriate management to enhance and maintain the ecological value of the non-designated priority habitats.
  • continue to manage open habitats for flora and fauna. 
  • encourage the development of an understory and shrub layer associated to woodland edges as the woodlands mature for the benefit of birds and help link trophic levels. 
  • identify existing Trees of Special Interest* TSIs* and demonstrate appropriate management to recruit future veteran trees and increase the volume and distribution of deadwood.

What we'll do

The plan details management operations including approved felling and restocking for the 10 years to 2034, with outline proposals for a 50 year period.

The young woodlands have now reached an age where they need respacing to provide the trees space to grow and mature.  Thinning operations will begin in the woodlands over the next 10 years and this will provide opportunities to remove diseased trees, open up paths and provide adequate space for the remaining trees to mature.  Small groups will be felled in Viridor and Byrom wood to maintain appropriate woodland habitat for birds including the willow tit.  These group felling operations will be phased in to ensure transitional open space, young scrubby woodland and deadwood habitats are maintained as these are key habitats for the willow tits lifecycle.  A strip of mature broadleaves adjacent to the railway line in Viridor will be felled.  As this area reestablishes itself, it will be cut in three phases, with one third been cut every 10 years ensuring the top hight of the semi mature trees (30yrs old) does not pose a risk to the railway line. Restocking following felling operations will be done through a combination of planting and natural regeneration.

The areas of clearfelling, restocking and open space creation planned for the 10 years to 2034 are summarised below. 

 ConifersBroadleavesTotal area
Clearfelling 0.210.4 10.6
Restocking 3.910.414.7

All above figures refer to the gross area to be felled and excludes thinning* operations

In addition to the above felling 123.7ha will be managed using Low Impact Silvicultural Systems (LISS)*.

For further information regarding the future management of Viridor, Byrom wood, Windy Bank, Colliers Wood and Barlows Farm please refer to the full plan below.