Knots Wood is situated 2 kilometres to the east of Lancaster and lies within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The main block of Knots Wood and the associated outlying woods extend over a land area of 104 hectares. The land is leased from Quernmore Estate since 1952 and planted with productive tree species between 1955 and 1961.
The dominant tree species within the main block of Knots Wood is Scots pine with some areas of other conifers, larch and beech. There is also an increasing proportion of locally native woodland that is dominated by birch, but includes oak and other minor tree species. Initially Scots pine proved to be fairly productive, achieving yield classes of 10 to 12. More recently damage by grey squirrels has caused many tree crowns to snap and some of the stands are looking rather moribund with a subsequent reduction in productive capacity.
Knots Wood was planted predominantly from 1955 to 1961 and these early plantings are now approaching economic maturity. A program of felling and restocking has been underway since mid-1990.
Knots Wood lies within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The outlying woods of Longmire, Bushy Pasture and Lythe Brow are designated as Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAW’s).
Along the western edge of Knots Wood is a County Biological Heritage Site (BHS) recognised for its ornithological interest.
There are no public rights of way through the woodlands and access for public recreation is presently precluded by leasehold constraints. Occasional use by orienteers for training and events is permitted by agreement.
Our aim is to create a more diverse and resilient woodland, with a greater range of species and habitats. The objectives of management here are:
- Maximise the value of sustainable timber production through the implementation of Low Impact felling systems through a programme of thinning operations across most of the wood supported where needed by supplementary planting to increase species diversity.
- Improve access for timber harvesting.
- Optimise the financial value of areas which are regenerating with productive species.
- Restructure the forest through phased thinning and restocking and open space management to increase the value of the woodlands for wildlife.
- Continuous cover management will provide opportunity for wider species and age class structure.
- Protect BHS site and long term retention of adjacent trees.
- Provision for public access remains an aspiration objective due to leasehold constraints.
- Improve internal and external views through restructuring and restocking with a diverse mix of conifer species and native broadleaves.
The proposals in this plan should lead to a more diverse and resilient woodland, with a greater range of species, age class and habitats providing long term sustainability and greater resilience to future pests and disease. A wider range of conifer species will have been established, and the range of broadleaved species will have been extended.
Timber production will continue with successive thinning under a continuous cover regime which will also contribute toward climate change mitigation. Establishment of a broader suite of commercial species will provide long term sustainability and the development of broadleaves will offer potential for local woodfuel markets.
If public access can be secured in the future the objectives in this plan will lead to woodland which will be attractive to visitors and sympathetic to the landscape.
The current plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking over several decades, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2025.
The areas due to be clear felled and restocked during the ten years to 2025 are summarised in the table below. The majority of the woodland will be managed as continuous cover through regular thinning every 5 to 7 years.
The proportions of pines, other conifer species and broadleaved woodland at the beginning of the plan period are shown in the bar chart. Through the management of continuous cover there will be a gradual reduction in pine as the major component with a gradual move to a more diverse range of species over time as indicated in the right hand columns of the chart. Although mixed broadleaved species reduces the likelihood is that the percentage of broadleaved trees occurring naturally in mixture with other conifer species will increase.