The Ethy Forest Plan covers 51 hectares of Public Forest Estate woodland on a prominent headland at the confluence of the Fowey and Lerryn rivers south of Lostwithiel in Cornwall. The woodland lies in the South Coast Eastern section of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty above the drowned valleys of the Fowey estuary.
The forest here is a mixture of productive conifer plantation and mature and regenerating broadleaves. The whole area is classed as ancient woodland, much of it Plantation on Ancient Woodland Sites, with scattered small groups and individual examples of the older remnant native broadleaves still evident.
The woodland is well used for walking by local people and visitors to this popular tourist area and there is a well signed footpath passing through it. The whole woodland is dedicated as access land under the Countryside and Rights Of Way Act.
The conifer crops here produce valuable timber but access for haulage is limited - conifers will not be planted here in future. Management during the life of this plan will aim to expand the area of native broadleaved woodland and increase the proportion of permanent open space.
The objectives of management in Ethy are:
- Continue sustainable management of the woodland resource to the standards required to maintain accreditation through the UK Woodland Assurance Standard.
- Develop the woodlands' resilience to changes in climate and the impact of tree diseases through diversification of species and woodland structure.
- Promote the development of native woodland species to replace existing areas of conifers, ideally by means of natural regeneration.
- Continue to develop a greater diversity in age structure
within the woodland, and develop areas of permanent open space.
- Ensure quality of coupe design enhances the external landscape.
- Protect and conserve all heritage & cultural features.
- Maintain the high quality of the landscape and promote opportunities for its enjoyment from the woodland.
- Maintain low key informal recreation provision in the woodland.
The current plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking over several decades, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2024. The recent spread of Phytophthora infection in larch required the wholescale removal of this species and some adjacent conifers in Ethy. This has provided an early opportunity to restock with native species and regenerate some areas naturally. The intention in future is to continue clearfelling conifer stands over a long time period, but manage the majority of the woodland under lower impact continuous cover systems.
The planned areas of clearfelling, regeneration and permanent open space creation during the ten years to 2024 are summarised in the table below. The relative proportions of broadleaved regeneration and open space are estimated.
In addition to these defined operations, ongoing thinning and selective felling of both conifers and broadleaves will be carried out in the plan area at five to ten year intervals.
The proportions of conifer and broadleaved woodland and open space at the beginning of the plan period are shown in the bar chart. The gradual reduction of conifer cover and increase in broadleaved regeneration and open habitat expected within the plan period and over time is indicated in the middle and right hand columns of the chart.