Witley Forest Plan
The Forest plan covers the Witley blocks which are composed of Blackhanger, Boundless Copse, Frillinghurst Wood, Halnacker, Holmens Grove, Hurthill Copse, Pond Copse and Stroud Wood woodlands, totalling 221.6 hectares. The Witley blocks occur at the Western edge of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and lie approximately 3km north east of the village of Haslemere in the county of Surrey.
The woods are owned and managed by the Forestry Commission and are classified as open access land.
Tree species in these woodlands are diverse and comprise both broadleaves such as Birch, Oak, Sweet chestnut, Ash and other mixed broadleaves - 70% and conifer species which include Corsican pine, Norway spruce, Western hemlock, and Douglas fir covering about 30%.
Overall, a significant part of the woodland - 179.4 ha equivalent to 80.4% of the total area is classified as Ancient Woodland (i.e. Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland and Plantation on Ancient woodland) which will influence the future management.
The objectives of management in the Witley blocks are to:
•Maintain the native composition of ancient semi-natural woodland and take opportunities to increase it.
•Restore planted ancient woodland sites to native and honorary native woodland.
•Take opportunities to increase the nature conservation value of existing habitats
•Maintain and increase the species and age diversity of the woodland.
•Control invasive plant species and reduce their impact across the sites.
•Provide, maintain and enhance where appropriate the recreational environments of the woodland.
•Provide a regular supply of quality timber to support local employment and local timber processing industries.
What we'll do
Approval has been granted for the operations to run from April 2018 to March 2028. During this period, forest management will largely be based on low impact silvicultural systems to increase species and structural diversity (172 ha). Some 22 ha will be thinned regularly until they reach a clear-felling age and restocked with species indicated in the plan.
The rest of the woodlands will be managed under a coppice system (17 ha), wet woodland/minimum intervention (11 ha) and open space (1.5 ha).
The species composition will also change from 56% broadleaf, 23% conifer, 20% mixed woodland and 1% open space currently to 90% broadleaf, 6% conifer, 3% mixed woodland and 1% open space in the future.