Barrowfield forest is a 140 hectare holding that the Forestry Commission manages on the edge of the Lake District National Park. It is situated in the Lythe Valley near to the village of Brigsteer. The area was acquired in 1964 under a leasehold agreement with the Bagot family, and comprises three distinct areas known as Barrowfield Wood, Honeybee Wood and Barrowfield Lot.
Barrowfield now consists of 23% commercial conifers and 77% broadleaves, open ground or yew. In 2004, these figures were 32% and 68% respectively and the difference reflects the amount of native woodland restoration that has taken place since then. The whole woodland is prominent in the wider landscape and is seen from a range of viewpoints. The views from the southwest, in the Lythe Valley, are particularly important. Shape and scale of topography have therefore been important influences over previous plans.
Recreation interest centres on use by walkers of public rights of way and the forest road. A small-scale pheasant shoot is exercised mostly in Barrowfield and Honeybee Woods. The woodland is also used for occasional orienteering events.
Barrowfield contains several areas of SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) as well as PAWS (Plantations on Anction Woodland Sites).
The plan aims to an increase in native broadleaved trees and improve the matrix of habitats for wildlife. The objectives of management in Barrowfield are:
PAWS restoration, and enhancement of the semi-natural woodland.
Conversion of all areas currently under conifers to broadleaved woodland.
Efficient and economic harvesting of the remaining conifer stand.
Maintenance of the woodland as a productive site for broadleaved timber after all the conifers have been removed.
Protection and, where necessary, enhancement of the SSSI features.
Protection of the archaeological features.
The current plan outlines proposals for felling and thinning for several decades and a feeling licence approval for operations until 2026.
Regeneration of all sites will be primarily by natural regeneration. As there is an objective of continued broadleaved timber production in Barrowfield Lot, the regeneration here will be supplemented by planting of productive species such as oak and ash. Supplementary planting may also be used to restore locally important species, such as small-leaved lime, whitebeam and yew in the PAWS restoration areas.
Where it is feasible to do so, broadleaved crops will be thinned. During the lifetime of this plan, such thinnings are only expected to be of firewood quality. In selected areas, this thinning will have the potential to produce future crops of higher quality broadleaved timber.
Although the current plan, like its predecessors, focuses on the phased removal of conifers and their replacement by native broadleaves, longer term management of the woodland will include production of broadleaved timber, although at a lower level. This is likely to include quality saw-logs, firewood and coppice products.