Yorkshire Forest Plans
The Forest Plans cover an area of nearly 21,000 hectares in North Yorkshire, Darlington, Stockton-On-Tees and the City of York, the majority of which is freehold as part of the public forest estate. Around 4,500 hectares are leased from the Church Commissioners and other landowners.
The character of the forest’s landscape ranges from the large-scale conifer forests on the moorland plateaux on the North York Moors, to ancient woodlands in the Southern Hambleton Limestone Hills and Humberhead Levels and the small community woodlands near Darlington and Stockton-On-Tees.
The majority of forests are planted with conifers, primarily managed as a timber resource, although there are also areas of mixed woodland and broadleaf dominant ancient woodlands. A large proportion of the forests now comprise younger second rotation stands, and future restocking will introduce an increasing level of species diversity into timber crops as well as increasing the area of native broadleaf woodland.
The district’s forests provide habitat for many species of regionally important wildlife including Nightjar and Turtle Dove. It will be important to maintain suitable forest habitat to support viable populations for these species into the future.
There are 19 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) covering nearly 1200 hectares either wholly or partly within the public forest boundary. These are covered by separate management plans agreed with Natural England.
A significant number of sites of archaeological interest also exist within the area covered by the plans. All the scheduled sites are well documented and covered by management plans agreed with Historic England.
The forests are well used for informal recreation and all freehold woodland is dedicated for open access on foot under the Countryside Rights of Way Act. There is an extensive formal network of cycle routes, waymarked trails and recreation facilities provided at our main recreation hub at Dalby Forest.
The environmental, social and economic objectives of forest management detailed in the plans balance conservation, landscape and recreation values.
Clearfelling has been planned to create structurally diverse forests wherever conditions permit, and where practical implement lower impact silvicultural systems has been taken.
At restocking, opportunities are being taken to mitigate the straight boundaries of earlier planting, increase open area, and increase the proportion of broadleaf species.
The introduction of open woodland along the forest edges which bound on to open moor will mitigate the hard change from moor to forest.
What we will do
The plans outline management proposals including felling and restocking over 50 years, with felling licence approval for ten. The planned areas of clearfelling, restocking and open space creation during the ten-year approval period are summarised within individual plans. The area of open space includes felled areas due to be regenerated over a longer period of time.