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Wyre Forest Plan

About

The plan for Wyre Forest National Nature Reserve and Forest describes the management that will take place across 1654 hectares of land on the Shropshire/Worcestershire border.  The majority of woodland sits within the main block of the Wyre Forest, however the plan also covers the small outlying woodlands of Ribbesford, Bell Coppice, Brandlodge Coppice, Rock Coppice, Cold Harbour Coppice and Skeys Wood. 

All of the land covered by this management plan is now jointly managed by Natural England and Forestry England – this ten year plan represents the first phase of this new partnership and a new and exciting phase in the history of the forest.

The Wyre Forest is situated to the west of the Severn River Valley and the town of Bewdley in the West Midlands, against a backdrop of pasture, arable land and settlements. It is one of the largest ancient oakwoods in England, providing character and identity to the local landscape.

The majority of the plan area is designated as Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with a further 550 hectares classified as National Nature Reserve.  The area features a mixture of different habitats from forest to open grassland, old orchards and steep-sided valleys as well as a diverse range of wildlife including redstarts, pied flycatchers, pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies, narrow-leaved helleborines and white-clawed crayfish.

In addition to its SSSI designation, the majority of the plan area is classed as Ancient Woodland, where the focus of management is to gradually reduce the amount of conifer and beech, in order to restore and enhance the ancient semi-natural woodland composition more reminiscent of the Wyre Forest of the past, and to diversify the woodland structure through reintroducing coppicing on a grander scale.

The Wyre Forest provides ample opportunities for people to explore the forest and its remarkable wildlife.  A number of way-marked trails and less formal paths criss-cross the forest, and cyclists can make use of the family cycle trail or the national cycle trail (Route 45) which crosses the forest.

All open access, the majority of the land is managed under a freehold basis with small areas under private ownership and leased to Natural England.

Objectives

The overarching aim of the plan is to enhance the value of the Wyre Forest and its outliers for wildlife and for people whilst maintaining a viable timber output.

The social, economic and environmental objectives of management are to:

  • Diversify woodland species and structure for greater ecological and economic resilience
  • Protect and enhance woodland and open habitats and their associated species
  • Restore and manage the Wyre Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
  • Conserve, maintain and enhance the cultural and heritage assets of the forest
  • Provide and maintain well-managed recreation facilities
  • Sustain a careful balance between recreation and sensitive wildlife sites
  • Continue to produce sustainable and marketable woodland products
  • Deliver well-designed proposals that comply with landscape design principles in keeping with the local landscape character

What we’ll do

The forest plan outlines management proposals including thinning, felling and restocking for the next ten years, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2026.  

The aim of the felling operations is to restore a diverse range of well-connected open, successional and woodland habitats including lowland heathland and rides, coppice and wood pasture.

During this plan period, 48 hectares of conifers will be clearfelled, and replaced either with native broadleaf species or open space, and 20 hectares of broadleaves will be coppiced.

In addition to these defined operations, ongoing thinning of both conifers and broadleaves will be carried out in the plan area at five to ten year intervals. This will gradually reduce the amount of conifer and beech to restore ancient semi-natural woodland across the management area and provide space for enrichment planting with a variety of trees native to the Wyre Forest.