Community Woodland Larch Removal Volunteer Sessions

Replanting our Community Woodland – October 2023 Update

Progress with the larch felling

The felling of larch required by the Statutory Plant Health Notice is now complete.  About a third of our woodland was affected (21ha) and as a community we can now look to replant the affected areas in line with our approved Woodland Management Plan vision & strategy:

Woodland Management Vision : To manage the woodland to create a safe, vibrant, and productive environment for users and wildlife.

Woodland Management Strategy : The woodland will be managed, and specific plans developed, to progress the following strategic aims:

  • Promote indigenous wildlife,
  • Progressively re-plant with predominately native species,
  • Appropriately manage dangerous trees,
  • Provide income for the Trust to reinvest back into the community.

Planning the replanting – what have we been doing?

Mapping – Our first step has been to map out the woodland compartments, footpaths and tracks using a woodland mapping app (Avenza) and download these onto our woodland management software (MyForest).

The map below shows how we have divided up the 21ha into 11 smaller compartments using footpaths, burns, ownership boundaries and other obvious features. We will make separate assessments of the best approach for replanting for each of these smaller areas.

Compartment approach to replanting :

We have given each compartment a reference number from 2A to 2M (they all fall within Compartment 2 of the Woodland Management Plan).  These reference numbers aren’t very memorable so we have also named some of them and would like to name them all over time.  

So far, we have named areas after the woodland sculptures in them ie Badger Wood (area 2D); Squirrel Wood (area 2G); Owl Wood (area 2H) or obvious features. But we would welcome ideas for names especially if there are historical or existing names for each area. Please send suggestions to the email address or speak to one of the woodland group members. 

We have surveyed each area in person and have also had input from a professional woodland adviser – Andrew McQueen. We made notes and took photographs during spring and summer, carried out a soil survey using a soil core auger and noted signs of the presence of red and grey squirrel, pine marten, deer and other wildlife.

These surveys have given us lots of useful information for each compartment to help us to decide which areas need replanting, which species we should choose to plant and what replanting techniques we should use.

Pilot Compartments :

The compartments that we are targeting for replanting this winter are 2C & 2E, as these are the most accessible (close to both the Gillies Hill sheds entrance and woodland base) and also the area most frequented by the community.  These have been largely clear-felled and we will use them to test replanting approaches which we can then, if successful, use for other compartments.

We hope to plant around 1,800 trees in this area over the coming winter, with the help of as many members of the community (plus local groups, schools, nurseries etc) as possible.  

Ground preparation will be needed for all of the areas to be planted – to remove the vegetation and brash that would otherwise hinder the planting and establishment of the trees.  Ground preparation by hand is not feasible for the 1000s of trees we need to plant so we will need to use some mechanical ground preparation for the areas before we can plant and protect the trees by hand. 

This ground preparation will involve a wide-tracked machine (smaller than the machines used for felling and with a lighter footprint on the woodland) which will rake back vegetation and brash and create shallow mounds on which to plant the trees. It should also allow us to move brash away from the major paths and smooth out the main ruts through the wood left by the larch extraction forwarder. 

We need to plant trees before the spring so we hope to carry out the ground preparation at 2C and 2E before Christmas.  We think it would take around a week on site and we hope to get a specialist contractor in place by early December. Access to compartments is available via an existing extraction route from our woodland base.

The trust has allocated an overall budget of £26,000 for all the replanting activity over the next few years and have allocated £8000 for replanting compartments 2C & 2E. We are also applying for funding from various organisations and hopefully we will be successful in our applications. 

Community Engagement on our replanting proposals

Our plans are progressing well, and we will provide further updates over the coming weeks.

We will look to hold 2 community engagement meetings in November – one in the woodland and one in the community hall. The objective of these meetings will be to get your feedback and questions on these replanting proposals. 

We are also looking for volunteers to help with the replanting by hand of new trees over the winter.