The Forestry Commission has published guidance on designing new woodlands as part of The UK Forestry Standard (Standard Notes 1, 2, 3 & 6) together with a range of detailed Guidelines on different aspects of woodland design. Some of these can be downloaded free from the Forestry Commission.
- Take advice. Forestry Commission woodland officers can provide valuable advice on woodland design.
- Take account of the character of the local landscape, or the broader landscape type to which it belongs, and in particular the scale and form of existing woodlands, field patterns and topographic features. The Character Areas Overview give guidance on design issue for new woodland planting in County Character areas.
- Fit margins and internal boundaries to the landform, and particularly where the topography is strongly expressed. In landscapes where field patterns are strong, ensure that woodland edges respect and interlock with the boundary network.
- Where the character of the landscape allows, try to make woodlands large enough to have robust woodland core habitats and to prevent edge conditions from dominating.
- Maintain locally important views or vistas.
- Incorporate designated and protected sites, and other features of historic or nature conservation value, sensitively into the design.
- Allow for 10-20% of open space within the woodland and design it to maximise biodiversity and amenity value. Relate it where possible to existing topographic or cultural features or features of conservation potential. Where none exist, use it to develop permanent internal or external edges in harmony with the landform and to create structural and habitat diversity.
- Ensure that the network of open space is well linked – both internally and externally to surrounding open habitats – to allow movement of light-loving species.
- Allow for the future effects of tree growth on open spaces, important views, designed landscapes and access routes.
- Design rides and utility wayleaves to compliment the landform and allow space for the development of edge habitats.
The general design principles apply equally to new native woodlands but some elements need special emphasis to encourage a more natural woodland ecosystem to develop.
- Pay particular attention to the design of open ground. For some woodlands this may be up to 40% of the woodland area.
- Plant at varied densities to help initiate structural diversity.
- Plant internal and external edges irregularly with decreasing planting density towards the edges leaving room for natural colonisation.
- Leave unplanted any areas where locally native trees are likely to colonise naturally.
The Forestry Commission defines community woodlands for the purposes of the English Woodland Grant Scheme as those where the public have free quiet enjoyment in daylight hours for 11 months of the year. For local people to gain real benefit from community woodlands they need to be fully involved in the woodland’s design and management. The Forestry Commission have published a Practice Guide: Involving Communities in Forestry through Community Participation, and a toolbox for public involvement in forest and woodland planning. Both can be downloaded free from their website. Design considerations include:
- Involve the local community in the design process.
- Identify potential conflicts between different objectives (access, timber production, wildlife) and try to address them through design – separating functions where necessary.
- Don’t invite vandalism. Avoid fencing where possible. Use small planting stock. Minimise opportunities for fly tipping. Respond quickly to repair damage or remove rubbish.
- Where levels of access are likely to be high use robust and vandal resistant species and particularly along access rides and paths.
Short Rotation Coppice
Short rotation coppice (SRC) is a new element in the landscape and needs to be designed with some care. Forestry Commission Guideline Note 002: Short Rotation Coppice in the Landscape gives detailed advice on the design of SRC plantations and landscape character, and can be downloaded free from the Forestry Commission.