The Idless Forest Plan covers 113 Hectares of the Public Forest
Estate, just north of Truro in Cornwall. It includes St. Clement, Bishop's and Lady's woods, and most of Lord's Wood - the small northern section of this wood is privately owned. Idless Woods are bordered by open fields to the west and a narrow valley to the east, with more privately owned woodland on the opposite bank of the stream which forms the boundary of the plan area.
The public forest here is a mixture of conifer and broadleaved plantation, mature and regenerating native woodland. Most of it is actively managed to provide timber for local and national businesses, and to improve the quality of the remaining tree crop.
There is a well preserved iron age hill fort in the middle of Bishop's wood, its ramparts and interior covered with old oak coppice. This Scheduled Monument (SM) is the subject of a separate management plan agreed with Historic England. Other heritage features include six charcoal burning platforms within the enclosure, evidence of a long history of management.
The entire forest is classed as an Ancient Woodland, apart from the area immediately surrounding the fort, and regeneration of native species is a priority. Remnants of Ancient Semi Natural Woodland are found among the planted trees and along the eastern watercourse.
The whole of the area covered by the plan is dedicated as open access land under the Countryside and Rights Of Way act, and the woods provide a valuable recreational resource for the local community. The forest roads and public footpaths which pass through the woods are well used by dog walkers and horse riders. There is also an orienteering course maintained by the Cornwall Orienteering Club, and the main forest road is used for sled dog training.
The long term aims of management here are to continue the process of restoring Ancient Woodland while increasing resilience to climate, pest and disease risks, and to develop the forest for people.
The specific objectives of management in this plan period are:
- Continue sustainable management of the woodland resource and develop woodland resilience through thinning and selective felling.
- Maintain the wooded landscape. Monitor development of areas designated as successional habitat, and react to natural processes to promote diversity and productivity.
- Enhance the woodlands' value for nature conservation and biodiversity. Manage open space to develop a matrix of open and semi open habitat and provide linkages for wildlife.
- Conserve all cultural and heritage features. Maintain the SM site in accordance with the management plan agreed with Historic England.
- Maintain open access for informal recreational activity.
- Enhance visitor experience by managing internal landscaping along existing corridors and at access points.
There is no clearfelling scheduled over the current 10 year plan period as large areas of both young and mature larch were recently cleared under a Statutory Plant Health Notice, following Phytophthora ramorum infection.
In the longer term clearfelling and replanting will continue, but we will gradually implement lower impact continuous cover management systems, favouring natural regeneration of native species. Ongoing thinning and selective felling of both conifers and broadleaves will be carried out in the plan area at five to ten year intervals.
Significant progress has already been made in increasing the proportion of site native broadleaves here, much of this change being due to the removal of larch. Some felled areas have been restocked with oak and wild cherry, and some have been left to regenerate over time through natural processes. Managed open space will improve the matrix of habitats for a wide range of flora and fauna.
The anticipated increase in broadleaved woodland and open space during the plan period and over time is illustrated in the chart below.