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Wykeham Forest Plan

About

Wykeham is an area of 1114.6 hectares of primarily coniferous woodland with some broadleaf coverage situated in North Yorkshire. The woodland is situated approximately 7 kilometres west of Scarborough within the south-east corner of the North York Moors National Park. The forest is a mixture of freehold and leasehold land secured by the Forestry Commission between 1924 and 1987 and was previously managed as rough pasture and moorland. A proportion of the land was already established with conifer and broadleaved woodland.

The forest is situated in the ‘Wykeham Forest’ landscape character areaon the Tabular Hillsin the south-east of the North York Moors National Park and is planted on a sloping plateau with a south-easterly aspect, largely hidden from the south.

Wykeham Forest is one of 12 forest-scale trials in England, Scotland and Wales, established to improve our knowledge and understanding of continuous cover forestry (CCF). Unique to Wykeham is the establishment of the forest nursery on the plateau accounting for just over 70 hectares.

At the start of the previous plan, in 2002, the forest was largely coniferous and there has been little change between species groups over this period. This should be expected where the pace of change is much slower through the application of continuous cover silviculture. Although species diversification has been limited, there are noticeable signs of increased structural diversification where developing understorey is having a positive impact within the forest. The forest is also popular with visitors who use it frequently for recreational walking and dog walking, as well as horse riders making regular use of the bridleways.

Objectives

The long term vision for Wykeham Forest is to maintain the natural and cultural heritage sites, consider the selection for alternative main tree species to boost resilience and diversity of the forest.

Environmental

  • Maintain and improve the ecological, cultural and heritage value of these woods, to be measured by Natural England, Historic England, Non-Government Organisations and FC systems accordingly.
  • Improve the resilience and adaptation to climate change, pests and diseases of the natural environment, to be measured by FC systems accordingly.

Social

  • Encourage communities to become involved across these woods, its management and direction through consultation in planning and participation in volunteering.
  • Maintain and improve the forests contribution to the surrounding landscape character by increasing species and structural diversity, to be measured by external and internal fixed-point photography.

Economic

  • Maintain the land within our stewardship under UKWAS certification, to be measured by independent surveillance audits.
  • Improve the economic resilience of these woods from a more diverse range of site appropriate conifer and broadleaf species, to be measured by the Production Forecast and Sales Recording Package.

What we’ll do

The Wykeham Forest Plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking for 10 years from 2017 to 2026.

The planned areas for areas of conifer, broadleaf and permanent open space creation during the ten years to 2026 are summarised in the table below.

Habitat type -

(based on principal species established)

Area – hectares

 

  

% age of total area

 

 

Conifer

723.2

65

Broadleaf

202.7

18

Temporal and permanent open ground (inc.  forest nursery)

188.6

(no change)

17

(no change)

 

In addition to these defined operations, selective thinning and group felling will be carried out on a small scale at five and ten year periods.

We will protect and, where appropriate, enhance all known sites of archaeological and ecological importance and all sites, regardless of their designation, will receive the same level of care during the planning and execution of forest operations. The operation planning system will ensure they are recognised and the proper measures for their protection are in place before work begins.

The areas of small group felling carried out as part of the CCF silvicultural systems will be regenerated to diversify species and age structure and to continue to provide a sustainable timber resource, whilst mindful of the projected impacts of climate change.

The development of future areas of broadleaf woodland will look to create a robust network of habitats linking conifer and broadleaf woodland with internal and external heath communities and riparian corridors. Natural regeneration will be the preferred method of establishment with the expectation that birch and willow species predominate.

This table illustrates how the plan will progress:

Felling

Area - hectares

% of total area

Projected volume (m3)

2017 – 2021 Clearfell

15.50

1.4

  4725

2022 – 2025 Clearfell

19.90

1.8

  6397

Continuous Cover*

41.10

3.7

13974

Natural Reserve

84.30

7.6

-

* Group/strip felling as part of a CCF shelterwood system.