Community Woodland Larch Removal News

SPHN – Larch Removal, update Thursday 14th April 2022

We’re pleased to say that the harvester has now left Gillies Hill.  This means that all larch trees have now been felled – with the exception of those trees containing squirrel dreys (see below for more on this). This marks a major milestone in complying with the SPHN and turning point in working towards recovery and rejuvenation of the woods.  

The forwarder is now working to remove logs from across the felled area (Zones 1 to 5), to the stacking area for haulage offsite.  

The forwarder will be focussing on clearing zone 4 this week and early next week, before moving on to zone 5.  
Our contractor RTS is hopeful that all the logs will be collected and the forwarder offsite by the end of May.  A firm deadline can’t be given as this is dependent on the availability of timber trucks to haul logs away.  RTS have assured us they are as keen to complete the work as soon as possible as the forwarder is needed for their next job. 
Forwarder has a 20m safe zone when loading, unloading and when travelling.

Signs are in place for everyone’s safety – please do not interfere with any barriers or signs.
Thank you for your continued cooperation and tolerance while the felling and forwarding progresses. Thankfully we are nearing the end of the felling. The forwarder will only be removing logs, which means that there will be plenty of ‘brash’ (branches and twigs) left behind.  Some of this has been laid over existing paths in order to protect the ground.  As each zone is cleared of logs we will be looking at the best way to clear brash from paths to allow access.  Some of this may be able to be done with machinery, whilst some will need to be done by hand.  

This will be a focus during our next woodland volunteer day on Saturday 30th April and we’ll share more information in the coming weeks too.  Other than a safety clearance area around the forwarder we hope to open up as much of the woodland again as possible over the coming weeks.  
The crossing remains which allows access from Gillies Hill into the non SPHN area of the woodland. The map below shows the route from Gillies Hill to the Walled Garden and up towards the Daffy Valley.

For all the background information about why the larch is to be removed in this area please visit previous updates from this page:    SPHN – Larch Removal

Protecting our Squirrel Population

Many thanks to our volunteers who have continued to fill our 10 squirrel feeders and the red squirrels are definitely using them. 

The larch trees marked ‘drey’ will not be felled until after the breeding season so we aim to ensure they aren’t in use and no squirrel or their kits come to harm.  Our Tree Health Officer has imposed a deadline for these of 31st August 2022.  No heavy machinery will be brought back on site for this, they’ll be felled by hand and we’re discussing how some can be made into benches/seats, rather than being extracted. 

Measures undertaken to protect the squirrels are outlined in the blog on the CCDT website of 6th January: Squirrel Dreys & Bird Boxes Blog


Consultation & Communication

As Trustees and volunteers, we are working for the benefit of the community woodland and are keen for progress of projects to be driven by the community.  If anyone wishes to take an active role in the restocking and reinstating paths planning, please do get in touch.  We are happy to answer any questions which are asked and keen to take onboard views of the community through our consultation sessions.  Please email any queries to

A further update on these operations will be provided next Thursday 28th April.

Blog written by Russell Gill