Creating a woodland
Woodland creation – what do you need to consider?
There are many steps to creating a woodland and this simple guide will hopefully help you in the decision making process.
Firstly, there is the land. Do you have some? Are you freehold or leasehold? Is it registered with the Rural Payments Agency? Where is it located? Are there any restrictions; such as covenants; national, regional or local designations; priority habitats or species; current agri-environment schemes; access issues; water – does the land flood or is it very dry; soil type; slope; aspect; landscape character? Are there neighbours to consider? Do you want a native broadleaved woodland for conservation? Or a woodland that produces viable commercial timber? Or both? Are there grazing animals such as deer and rabbits, or farming stock? What density do you wish trees to grow – spacing? Will the woodland be pastoral and grazed, or closed canopy? Will there be fencing to protect the trees or will tree shelters be used? Will trees be planted or natural regeneration be promoted? Will there be glades, rides, ponds or other features?
All these and more considerations must feed into your decision making process. This is why a woodland creation plan, as well as an environment impact assessment and stakeholder assessment are requested by the Forestry Commission for the Woodland Creation Grant schemes. Details of these can be found at the government website. Links are below
The UK Forestry Standard
Countryside Stewardship: How to apply
Woodland Creation grant: Countryside Stewardship (from 15 July 2020)
Woodland Creation Planning Grant
Environmental Impact Assessments for woodland: overview
If you are planning a small woodland (<2ha) the above should be material considerations, even if you put nothing to paper.
Moor Trees – Trees 4 Woods scheme
For smaller woodland, shelterbelts, or copses (<3ha) Moor Trees offer our own grant ‘Trees 4 Woods’. This is a simple application process with key criteria and we will do a desk top survey, including a basic environment impact assessment; then if applicable we will visit your site. We will work on woodland and hedgerow designs with you. This will include choice of tree species suited to the land, number of trees, location of tree planting, tree protection and when to plant.
We offer heavily subsidised rates on trees and tree protection materials. However, we do not do fencing, only using tree shelters to protect trees. We can also plant the trees for you, for which there is a flat day rate. When planting we frequently plant 300-400 trees a day with our volunteers, sometimes more depending on the land type and ground conditions. All monies return to the charity to fund future tree growing and tree planting activities.
Plastic tree guards – the fuller picture
The use of tubes to protect broadleaves (and increasingly conifers at shorter tube / wrap heights) from deer species and rabbit etc has several purposes, which has a bearing on the lifespan of the tube in the forest. To start with, the young tree is protected from browsing and herbicide application, with the additional benefit of the microclimate inside the tube for faster establishment. Once the tree has grown out of the top of the tube the removal timescale needs to be carefully considered. Removing a tube too soon can expose the stem of the tree to deer rubbing and stripping, killing the tree. The option many people prefer is to leave the tube on as long as possible as the tube continues to provide stem protection. At this stage, the PP tube is probably around 8-10 years old and cannot be re-used for this sort of application. What happens next is the issue we often see in the woods, as the tube is not needed any more and is left in the forest to break into pieces, fall over and get scattered in the wind or squashed into the soil. It is at this time action should be taken by a responsible owner / forester to remove the tube from the tree before it disassembles itself in situ.
The basic ingredient of a tree tube has not changed much over time being namely polypropylene (PP), which is widely used in millions of applications and is produced as a by-product from the petroleum industry. These humble tubes have enabled millions of trees to grow over the last 30 years, which would have otherwise been eaten or killed with herbicide.
The degradability claims regarding the breakdown of the tree shelters are often cited as being untrue. This is in part an issue caused by the application, rather than the product. A PP tree shelter will breakdown in the sunlight over a stated time period due to the addition of a UV stabiliser to slow the natural degrading process and enable a service life (PP tubes are photodegradable as opposed to biodegradable) but once the tree inside the tube grows out, it casts shade and the degrading process slows down.
We have seen non-plastic tree protection come and go over the years, some with questionable sustainability claims, but the main problem is light transmission. A twin walled PP shelter is a strong product and the better ones let the light through at around 75%, performing as customers would expect. Using alternative materials has so far met with limited success, mainly due to light exclusion and poor strength, which is not a beneficial trait of any tree tube. It is possible to look to new materials but the availability, cost and practicalities does make the products very expensive. For now, companies mainly use PP for their solid tubes, which is inert and does not leach harmful chemicals into the environment as it is comprised of carbon and hydrogen, unlike PVC found in spiral guards, which contains high levels of chlorine.
Text extracted from a blog by Simon Place, ICF Associate Member, Account Manager, Forester and Woodland Owner, Tubex 13 March 2018
If you choose to use PP tree tubes there is now a recycling scheme by Tubex, a supplier of said tubes. To read about this scheme follow this link ‘Tubex collection and recycling programme’. Moor Trees very much encourages landowners with historic plantations and those planning new plantations, where tree tubes will be used, to use this service. It is new and should be strongly supported by the industry.
In due course new tree protection tubes will be designed which are far better for the environment but in the interim this is the best solution.
Of course, simply allowing natural regeneration with no protection, or within a deer and rabbit fenced area, mitigates for the use of plastic tubes and is to be encouraged. However, it will take much longer for woodland to regenerate and mature, with a wide variety of tree species, than it will for a planted woodland requiring protection, and therefore longer to have a positive impact for other wildlife, flora and fauna.
How Moor Trees Can Help
Moor Trees has worked with many landowners over the last 20 years, providing trees and volunteers to plant them.
Moor Trees can help guide you through this grant process and act as your land agent to get the funds for purchasing the trees, protecting your new trees from deer and rabbits, and other potential capital projects. We can also advise on other aspects of managing your land – meadow creation, ponds and streams for wildlife – and what sources of support there are.
Often the whole project can be delivered at little cost to the landowner, depending on scale and location, and if you agree to us supplying the trees and planting your woodland in return for the grant. Additional charges may also apply.
Why not call and discuss your ideas with us? We can make a ‘no obligation’ site visit and explain the various options available.
Do you want a woodland?
Have you got land that:
- is of limited use for agriculture?
- or once supported woodland that you would like to restore?
- or you would like to plant for woodland as a long term commitment to nature conservation and amenity?
A natural woodland is a fantastic addition to any farm, smallholding or small estate.
- Are generally self-managing; no need to worry about looking after grazing stock.
- Look great in spring when the blossom is out, provide cool shade in the summer and a range of autumn colour and fruit in the winter.
- Support lots of native wildlife, from dormice to butterflies.
- Provide a real legacy for future generations.
- Lock up more carbon through their lifetime than coniferous tree species