Community Woodland Management Policy
To establish and maintain a healthy, safe, biodiverse woodland for the enjoyment of the community of Allington.
Much of the flora and fauna in a wood lives in the first 10 metres from the woodland edge. Therefore, maintaining open space increases biodiversity.
Open space within the wood favours woodland edge plants and their associated insects, birds and animals. By creating paths and keeping some open space and clearings we maximise light to the area which helps to minimise decay and felling.
Brambles may grow quite densely in areas. These are an excellent food source for butterflies and bees, birds and small mammals. Bramble thickets make great places for birds to nest. While we endeavour to keep them from covering paths, we do not intend to treat them as weeds and will allow them to grow in other areas.
We will allow the general understorey to develop naturally in areas away from paths and clearings.
Dead wood and dying trees are very useful as homes for a large range of wildlife like bats, fungi, lichens and mosses. Any dead wood or fallen trees will be preserved for this purpose, please see the ‘Maintenance’ section below for further information.
We may consider adding nest boxes for birds, including raptors such as owls, and for bats and dormice where areas of the wood are already well established.
We must try to resist the urge to ‘tidy up’ the wood too much - dead wood and dying trees are very useful as homes for a large range of wildlife like bats, fungi, lichens and mosses. Their decay feeds nutrients back into the soil.
Old trees or dead trees can be left to decay naturally as long as they are not an imminent danger to people or property. Any deadfall wood which poses a threat will be felled and moved if necessary.
If there is not much fallen dead wood, we will investigate the possibility of creating ‘habitat piles’ – piles of cut wood stacked in a shady area of the woodland and left to rot away.
If areas must be tidied up for safety, dead wood should be stacked and brashed into neat piles and left it in the woodland rather than removed altogether.
Contrary to popular belief, ivy does not strangle or damage trees, and has particularly high wildlife value. It should be left on the trees to provide nest sites, winter shelter and food for birds and insects.
We will let grass seed in by itself. Where nettles or undesirable plants are present, these must be removed. They must be pulled up by hand (including roots), don’t strim or use weedkiller as this encourages stronger regrowth and damages biodiversity.
We have several new trees recently planted, which are beginning to grow stronger. New trees can be allowed to grow naturally from seed in the more established areas of the wood. If planting new trees ourselves we must take care to plant native species and should consult a specialist if in doubt.
Once the wood has been successfully managed for some years we may need to consider coppicing. However, we suggest a specialist be consulted for advice when necessary, as other forms of long term management may be better.
In many woods, the trees are growing so closely together that very little light gets to the woodland floor. In some types of wood this is good for the species living there, but in many others, it means that few herbs and shrubs can survive and the wood looks dark and uninviting. The trees are all competing with each other for light and they often become tall and spindly.
This is obviously undesirable in our community wood. Should we consider thinning to be necessary at any time, we will engage a reputable contractor to review and recommend a course of action.
At this time we do not consider thinning to be an imminent requirement.
Certain plants are unwelcome invaders in woods. One of the most damaging, and unfortunately most common, is rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum). The thick evergreen foliage smothers native plants, and its roots exude a ‘cocktail’ of toxic chemicals.
Other exotic species that invade and damage woods include laurel, gaultheria, Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed, periwinkle and bamboo. Many of these are introduced to woods when people unthinkingly dump ‘harmless’ garden waste and as the Parish Council we should be vigilant in noticing signs of this happening, particularly around bonfire time.
Our intention is to maintain inspection of the condition of the woodland initially, following the above general maintenance policy.
Review again after 5 years and amend management plan as required.
Allington Community Wood Advisory Group
Some of the information above can be found in the Forestry Commission guide “So, You own a woodland”. There is much more detail on the management of woodland and how to increase biodiversity. It can be downloaded for free from the Royal Forestry Society here –