Upland Oak Birch Woodland – W17
Quercus petraea – Betula pubescens – Dicranum majus woodland.
A scattered distribution in the North Pennines, Coalfield Pennine Fringe, Pennine Dales Fringe. Formerly more widely distributed.
Existing woodlands are typically small woodlands of steep valley slopes & gills or the upper margins of gill & gorge ash woods marking the transition to more acidic soils.
Base poor superficial deposits including boulder clays, fluvio-glacial sands & gravels.
Base poor brown earths. Podzolic brown earths.
Downy Birch and Sessile Oak are the dominant species. The understorey is sparse with Hazel, Rowan and Holly common.
Ground Flora and Fauna
Bluebell, Primrose, Pignut, Wood Sorrel, Bluebell, Wood Anemone, Wood Sage, Creeping Soft-grass.
Semi-natural woodlands have little species diversity and are often dominated by Oak where they have been coppiced or birch where under managed or disturbed and have often been influenced by grazing. The canopy is often low (<10m) and relatively open, and trees are often multi-stemmed.
- Prevent grazing by livestock or browsing by deer – particularly in small woods.
- Maintain and increase the numbers of old trees and dead wood.
- Progressively remove non-natives at a pace flora & fauna can adapt to.
- Restore coppicing only where its history is well established and the effects on existing flora & fauna are understood.
- Low intervention approaches are best for small woods.
- Timber production – minimise the scale of disturbance.
- Use low-key establishment techniques – particularly natural regeneration.
- Increase species diversity in species poor woods.
- When planting is necessary use only native species of local origins.
Planting sites for new woods
Moderately acidic upland and upland fringe sites. Reclaimed sites on moderately acidic soils.
Planting mixtures dominated by Birch and Oak with smaller numbers of Hazel, Holly and Rowan.
Forestry Commission Forestry Practice Guide 5: Upland Oakwoods can be downloaded from Forestry Commissions Publications pages.