Stopham Case Study: Ride Widening Project


Joe Court Forestry have been regular contractors for English Woodlands Forestry for a number of years. Highly skilled and professional they can always be relied upon to provide an excellent level of forestry service across a range of activity from timber harvesting to habitat improvement works and everything in between. Always friendly and approachable they are a pleasure to work with and provide a high level quality service and excellent value for money.

In Stopham Estate we worked with Joe Court Forestry to deliver a ride widening project as part of a Countryside Stewardship Scheme for woodland biodiversity improvements. The ride ran east to west across an Ancient Semi Natural Woodland (ASNW) and was bordered by Sweet Chestnut and veteran Oak trees. Throughout the length of the ride the Sweet Chestnut had a closed canopy that was preventing light reaching the forest floor and suppressing the development of native flora. The ride was in poor condition with low habitat quality and limited access due to wet ground and low light levels.

The scope of the works was to coppice the Sweet Chestnut and remove the roots to prevent regrowth. Veteran trees were retained and released from competing growth and the ride sides were landscaped to create a seedbed for the natural regeneration of native flora.

The works were conducted in two stages:

Stage 1; the coppice was cut using a tracked excavator with tree shear, all marketable timber was extracted and presented at roadside for sale. Joe Court Forestry are highly experienced foresters and have the skills to cut timber to maximise the marketable potential whilst balancing the needs of the woodland habitat.

Stage 2; to remove the coppice stools to prevent regrowth. In normal coppice management the stools are retained to regenerate naturally but in this instance the permanent removal of the stumps would allow a wide ride edge to establish with native flora such as ferns, heather and grasses. This development of a shrub layer provides essential habitat for small mammals and invertebrates, with the long term intention of creating a rich biodiversity corridor through the centre of the woodland.

Overall the project has been very successful. It has created a potentially rich biodiversity habitat in an area that was originally very poor. The increased light levels will allow the ride to dry out and develop a grassy surface. I am confident that the ride will continue to improve as a habitat over time and it has already improved the access and amenity value of the woodland. Through the careful balance of biodiversity improvements and productive forestry Joe Court Forestry were able to deliver a sensitive and challenging project in a manner that was cost effective and provided multiple benefits to the woodland owner. Professional sustainable forestry at its very best.

 Written by Nina Williams, MICFor, Forestry Manager at English Woodlands

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External Links:

Countryside Stewardship - Gov.UK

English Woodlands Forestry

Stopham Case Study: Ride Widening Project

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