Haldon Forest Plan

About

The Haldon Forest Plan area is made up of the one large forest block along the Haldon ridge with a number of outliers surrounding it including Great Plantation, Powderham, Whaddon Brake and Ideford. The Plan area contains three SSSIs, the greatest of which is the Haldon Forest SSSI and is the equivalent to 53% of the Plan area. The SSSI is designated for its dwarf heathland, raptor and lepidoptera assemblages and nightjar. As a prominent feature along a ridge within the distinctive lowland setting within easy distance of Exeter, the Plan Area has a very high natural, recreation and landscape diversity and value.

The forests managed as part of the Public Forest Estate stretch from North Wood in the north, 2 miles west of Exeter, through the main block close to the village of Chudleigh to Great Plantation in the south which is 1 mile from Bovey Tracy.

The public forest here is predominantly conifer having been planted after the First World War to address the national timber shortage. Now large areas of restored lowland heathland, rotational forestry and the creation of felled sites support a nationally significant population of nightjar and rare butterflies.

The forests also provide a unique outdoor experience for visitors from the nearby urban settlements as well as the numerous tourists who visit Devon every year. Haldon Forest Park is a key tourist site for Exeter and Devon with thousands of visitors every year.

The majority of the Plan area is Open Access, confirmed by the Countryside Rights of Way Act. The exception is Whiteway, Spicers, Powderham and Whaddon which are all de facto Open Access due to it being leased from another landowner.

Objectives

The core aim of the Plan is to deliver the 50 Year Vision by producing woodlands with increased conservation, recreation and landscape benefits whilst maintaining a viable timber output. The long term aim of management is to continue to sustainably produce timber whilst providing a forest rich in wildlife, attractive to people and increasingly resilient to climate, pests and diseases.

The social, economic and environmental objectives of management are:

  • The continued production of sustainable and marketable woodland products
  • The protection and enhancement of woodland and open habitats and their associated species.
  • The creation and maintenance of permanent and transient open habitats.
  • The restoration and management of the Site of Special Scientific Interest.
  • The provision and maintenance of recreation facilities.
  • Support the development of increased and sensitively managed recreation provision.
  • Improve stand resilience around recreation infrastructure.
  • The delivery of well-designed proposals that comply with landscape design principles in keeping with the local landscape character.
  • The conservation, maintenance and enhancement of cultural and heritage assets

What We’ll Do

The current Plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking over several decades, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2028.

Crops in more exposed positions where soils are thin will continue to be managed primarily for conifer timber production under a clearfell and restock scheme. Crops in less exposed positions will be managed to continuous cover forestry prescriptions so as to create a diverse and resilient forest structure.

A comprehensive review of forest and heathland against the 50 Year Vision has meant that considerable areas will be restored in the future. The implementation and maintenance of an environmental corridor system and further 137 hectares of proposed heathland restoration, including 14 hectares in the next Plan period will continue to increase diversity of habitat and internal landscaping. Restocking design in specific places will look to enhance the heathland connectivity and butterfly habitat.

The planned areas of clearfelling, restocking and permanent open space creation during the ten years to 2028 are summarised below.

Clearfelling of 77ha of conifers and 5ha of broadleaves. Restocking/regeneration of 53ha of conifers, 15ha of broadleaves and 14ha of open habitat creation.  

In addition to these defined operations, ongoing thinning and selective felling of both conifers and broadleaves will be carried out in the plan area at five to ten year intervals.

The species composition will also change from 73% conifer, 16% broadleaf and 11% open space in 2018 to 71% conifer, 16% broadleaf and 13% open space in 2028.